New Forest organisations are appealing to gardeners to help combat an invasive non-native plant which is harming local wetlands.
Parrot’s feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) originates from Central and South America and was first found in the wild in 1960. The plant is now threatening to dominate some wetlands in the New Forest and is crowding out native species.
Work is already underway to remove this invasive non-native plant from the New Forest to benefit wetlands and the native species that rely on them. Now with ‘Invasive Species Week’ in the UK running until 6 March, homeowners are being asked to help by not disposing of parrot’s feather and other aquatic garden plants in the wild.
Parrot’s feather clearance in the New Forest is undertaken by the New Forest Non-Native Plants Project, hosted by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and funded by the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) Scheme.
The HLS scheme is an agreement with Natural England, held by the Verderers and managed by them in partnership with the Forestry Commission and the New Forest National Park Authority.
Since 2010 HLS-funded work to control parrot’s feather at four sites in the New Forest has had considerable success, including removing the plant from a pond at Bartley. Parrot’s feather has also been substantially cleared from Hinchelsea Bog near Brockenhurst and ponds at Castle Hill near Burley and East End near Lymington.
Olaf Booy is from the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat, the national body that coordinates the approach to invasive non-native species in Great Britain. He said: ‘Invasive aquatic plants are a real threat to the environment and can block water ways. Most of them are garden, pond or aquarium plants that have either escaped or been dumped in the wild.
‘Through the ‘Be Plant Wise’ campaign we are encouraging everyone to help protect our waterways and wildlife by disposing of garden plants properly and not letting them escape. Local projects, like this one in the New Forest, are a great way of not only tackling these species, but also of raising awareness and helping to prevent further escapes.’
Parrot’s feather gets its name from its feather-like leaves and can be found in still or slow-flowing water. It has been grown in British gardens since 1878, though it is now banned from sale.
The HLS scheme also funds work to remove other invasive non-native species, including Japanese knotweed, American skunk cabbage and Himalayan balsam.
In addition to invasive non-native species removal, the HLS scheme also supports commoning, wetland restoration, archaeology and education. This includes bringing more than 11,000 children on school trips to the National Park, recording thousands of forgotten archaeological sites and restoring nine miles of streams to their natural meanders.
To find out more about the HLS scheme and its work to eradicate invasive non-natives species from the New Forest visit www.hlsnewforest.org.uk/invasives
Notes to photo editors:
Contractors clearing parrot’s feather from a pond at East End, near Lymington.
Notes to Editors
Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is the only conservation charity committed to improving conditions for all wildlife across the two counties. We manage over 48 wildlife reserves as part of our vision to create a better future for wildlife and wild places on land and in our seas. www.hiwwt.org.uk
The Environmental Stewardship Schemes, of which HLS is one strand, are administered by Natural England, on behalf of Defra, and funds farmers and land managers throughout England to deliver effective environmental management on their land.
The objectives of Environmental Stewardship are to:
- Promote public access and understanding of the countryside
- Maintain and enhance landscape quality and character
- Protect the historic environment and natural resources
- Conserve biodiversity.
The role of the Verderers of the New Forest is to protect and administer the New Forest’s unique agricultural commoning practices; to conserve its traditional landscape, wildlife and aesthetic character, including its flora and fauna, peacefulness, natural beauty and cultural heritage; and to safeguard a viable future for commoning. www.verderers.org.uk
The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for forestry in Great Britain. It supports woodland owners with grants; tree felling licences, regulation and advice; promotes the benefits of forests and forestry; and advises Government on forestry policy. It manages more than a million hectares (2.5 million acres) of national forest land for public benefits such as sustainable timber production, public recreation, nature conservation, and rural and community development. For more information, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/newforest
Natural England is the government’s advisor on the natural environment. Established in 2006 our work is focused on enhancing England’s wildlife and landscapes and maximising the benefits they bring to the public. www.naturalengland.org.uk
The New Forest National Park Authority works with partners to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Park and to promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities. It also has a duty to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park. www.newforestnpa.gov.uk
Matt Stroud, Communications Officer, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646650