Appeal for Calderdale residents to tackle invasive plant species to protect environment and reduce flood risk

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People living in Calderdale are being urged to do their bit by reporting sightings of invasive plants in their local neighbourhood as part of a campaign to tackle invasive non-native species.

Launching during Invasive Species Week, the campaign calls on residents, gardeners, walkers, joggers, families, landowners and voluntary groups to take simple actions this summer to help prevent the spread of Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam in the Calder Valley.

People can log cases where they see invasive plants on the iRecord app as well as take action by pulling out Himalayan balsam.

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People are being asked to only report Japanese Knotweed, not to pull it out, as there is strict legislation around the control and movement of this plant, and it can propagate from small pieces.

Himalayan balsamHimalayan balsam
Himalayan balsam

Sally Kelling, flood resilience officer with the Environment Agency, who is coordinating the campaign in Calderdale said: Invasive species like Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed have a very negative impact on our environment. It often results in bare river banks in winter increasing the chances of soil erosion, danger of landslides and risks of flooding which is a particular problem for the Calder Valley.

The campaign is being led by organisations working in the Calder Valley including the Environment Agency, Calder Future, Calder Valley Clean-up Team, Calderdale Council, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Forus Tree, the Canal and Rivers Trust, Treesponsibility, National Trust, Calder and Colne Rivers Trust, Yorkshire Water, the River Stewardship Company and Slow the Flow.

Gavin Roberts, volunteer co-ordinator for Calder Future, said: "It would be great to involve as many local residents in this campaign as possible to make a big hit on invasive Himalayan Balsam in 2021.

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"Areas where local activists have been pulling balsam over the last years have seen a marked improvement and an increase in native flora coming back after the removal of the balsam, so it really is worthwhile continuing this effort. For more information contact [email protected]"

Invasive plants can be spread through soil used by people carrying out renovations or development works to their homes or gardens. It is important to make sure that that any imported soil is certified to be clean of hazardous material including any minute pieces of invasive plant species such as Japanese knotweed. Any material contaminated with invasive plant material must be disposed of at a licenced site not through council refuse collections.

John Cave, project officer for West Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, added: "Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and its partners are taking action to control Japanese knotweed along the river network in Calderdale. We are observing significant impacts to wildlife along many of the watercourses within the catchment, where this plant finds favourable conditions to grow and spread abundantly. Careful management by trained professionals over a number of years is required to control populations effectively.

"I encourage Calderdale landowners which have identified issues along a river or watercourse to contact our team for advice about management and support our efforts by submitting sightings of Japanese knotweed to our team by using the iRecord App.