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Volunteers step up battle against balsam with Stitch in Time project

Volunteers have contributed more than 400 hours to battling invasive non-native species (INNS) in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park since April this year.

In the six months to September 2017 volunteers took part in a series of ‘balsam bashes’ supported by the Park Authority’s Stitch in Time project, which is targeting three invasive species in Pembrokeshire’s Gwaun and Clydach Valleys - Himalayan balsam, Japanese knotweed and rhododendron ponticum.

The National Park Authority’s Stitch in Time project is targeting three invasive species in Pembrokeshire’s Gwaun and Clydach Valleys.
The National Park Authority’s Stitch in Time project is targeting three invasive species in Pembrokeshire’s Gwaun and Clydach Valleys.

Stitch in Time Project Coordinator Matthew Tebbutt said: “The bad news is, invasive species such as Himalayan balsam are widespread throughout Pembrokeshire and have negative impacts on biodiversity.

“The good news is, eradication is not impossible and the project has identified source sites of Himalayan balsam in both catchments, with management continuing with the help of staff, contractors, volunteers and landowners.

“Prevention is better than a cure. Please be ‘plant wise,’ know what you grow, especially if you live near water. INNS have a negative impact on ecosystem health and the cost of control can spiral if they are left unchecked.”

Volunteers have contributed more than 400 hours to battling invasive non-native species (INNS) in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in just six months.
Volunteers have contributed more than 400 hours
to battling invasive non-native species (INNS) in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in just six months.

One particular site was adopted by the Friends of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in 2015 and has seen a dramatic recovery, with the group working alongside Park Authority staff and the landowner.

Vicky Pearson of the Friends said: “It’s very satisfying to see what can be achieved with hard work and commitment and we look forward to working on two new sites next year and continuing the battle against balsam.

“Three members of the work party have recently undertaken a training course through the Stitch in Time project on the use of brushcutters. This will allow them to tackle large areas of balsam next spring.”

Newport Paths Group has also been very active on invasive species during 2017, working with volunteers and contractors with a focus on the Clydach catchment, with the support of landowners vital to the success seen so far.

Malcolm and Justine of Fachongle Isaf near Cilgwyn had been attempting to tackle the daunting balsam problem on their land for several years but believe that the excellent teamwork of these groups is helping win the battle.

They added: “We now feel we are in much better control of the problem and believe in the next couple of years we will be all but balsam-free.”

The Stitch in Time project started in 2015 with funding from the Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) and has been able to continue its work with financial support from the Welsh Government.

Other groups involved in the project include Llais Llanychaer, Pembrokeshire College, Greening Fishguard, National Park Voluntary Wardens, as well as individuals from across the county.

If you or a group are interested in volunteering in the Stitch in Time project please contact Matthew Tebbutt on 07866771164 or email matthewt@pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk.

For more information about the project and the three invasive species being targeted visit www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales.

Published 06 December 2017


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