Loch Lomond NNR
Last Thursday a few of the team headed out to the very bonnie Loch Lomond NNR on the hunt for some not so bonnie Invasive Non-Native Species. Controlling INNS is part of our regular conservation tasks and we were on the look out for New Zealand Pygmy Weed (Crassula helmsii) and American Skunk Cabbage (Lysichition americanus).
New Zealand Pygmy Weed or (as we call it day to day) – Crassula – is tiny and difficult to see. It grows in and out of water and everywhere in between. Crassula was originally brought over from Australia and New Zealand to be used in aquariums and garden ponds. It is now listed under Schedule 9 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, meaning it is an offence to plant or otherwise cause this species to grow in the wild. It causes major problems in nature reserves and recreation areas. It forms a 100% cover and smothers other plants and with a range of some of the UK’s rarest species of wetland plants at Loch Lomond it is important to stay on top of INNS control.
And what about the American Skunk Cabbage? This plant hails from the North West of America and is an early plant that bears are known to munch on when they awaken after their winter hibernation but there are no bears here to snack on it! It is a member of the lily family and is a prolific spreader that can completely take over.
The plant has been the subject of control measures on the NNR since 2004; when it was still advertised as “plant of the Month” on the RHS website and widely promoted in garden centres. Fortunately in 2015; EU regulation (EU Regulation 1143/2014 on Invasive Alien Species) was agreed .This regulation makes it an offence to keep, cultivate, breed, transport, sell these species, or release them, intentionally or unintentionally, into the environment.
We did find several small but signficant patches of Crassula on the shoreline as well as some patches of American skunk cabbage in the woodland. We recorded the locations and will return to clear these areas of the plants before they take hold.
All our INNS are now under control and we have been controlling them for the last 16 years. We spend longer looking for INNS now that having to remove them. Our next visit will be to treat the Crassula and Amercian skunk cabbage before they take hold.
Looking for INNS means we are closely looking at all the flora and fauna around us and it’s a joy to walk through Loch Lomond NNR appreciating the wide range of flora and fauna around and the creatures that visit them. As mentioned above, Loch Lomond NNR is home to a number of very rare protected plant species (with recognition as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for the plant assemblage here amongst other features). The NNR is also home to some very common plants which are just lovely and although not rare still deserve our appreciation. Protecting these is why we target INNS and try to keep on top of them before they become an issue. Here are some of the common and the rare beauties we saw along the way including an Osprey hunting for lunch.
Good luck with controlling the alien invasive plants and thank you for showcasing some of the other plants and insects seen along the way.