Invasive Species

Did you know that invasive non-native species (INNS) are in the top 5 highest risks to biodiversity according to the UK Government?

Invasive non-native species (INNS) are plants and animals that are not native to the UK, and that cans spread rapidly, quickly taking over habitats at the expense of native wildlife and habitats.

From American signal crayfish to zebra mussels there are a wide range of species that are invasive. However, the biggest offenders in the Ribble catchment are Himalayan balsam, giant hogweed, and Japanese knotweed. All of these can be found close to rivers and are often spread from one place to another in the water, which helps the plants move rapidly downstream to new sites.

These plants cause major issues to our native wildlife and can disrupt entire ecosystems. In particular giant hogweed receives a lot of attention as scores of unsuspected adults, young people, and pets are affected by the plants harmful sap which causes serious blisters and burns.

Some invasive species, such as Himalayan balsam, are easier to tackle than others, but in order to make sure a previously cleared site won’t be recolonised each area, river, and site has to be carefully mapped, prioritised, and planned. Giant hogweed on the other hand, needs the same planning, but is much more costly to tackle, with specialist training and equipment required.

Ribble Rivers Trust have the expertise and staff available to carry out this work and, with the help of our volunteers, we run a programme of invasive species removal across the catchment.