Invasive Species Eradication Project 2021-2025

Invasive non-native species (INNS) are one of the largest threats to biodiversity on a global scale. Through our award-winning Canal & River Invasive Species Eradication Project, we're working hard to eradicate their presence from our waterways.

Our team are working on a ground-breaking new project to eradicate four priority invasive plant species that have found their way into our waterways.

These are Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed, floating pennywort and water fern (azolla).

The problem

These four plant species, which have accidentally been introduced into our canals and rivers from other parts of the world, can cause major damage by:

  • Out-competing native wildlife and impacting other species critical to native biodiversity
  • Damaging eco-systems and their functionality
  • Posing a public and ecological health risk by spreading diseases and producing dangerous substances
  • Blocking canals by forming thick green carpets on the water. This also impedes navigation, clogs up propellers and damages boats
  • Increasing the potential risk of flooding
  • Impacting water quality for native fish and aquatic plants
  • Damaging infrastructure including canal banks and earth structures

With the likes of floating pennywort growing as much as 20cm a day, the race is on to prevent major and irreversible damage.

The project

We are tackling these invasive species in innovative, first-of-their-kind ways. With funding from Severn Trent’s Great Big Nature Boost Scheme, we have now launched Canal & River Invasive Species Eradication Project, a four-year project in the Severn Trent supply area.

This £600,000 project is the largest invasive species eradication project on UK inland waterways. It covers a significant geographical area, spanning several of our regions and the entirety of the Midlands across Severn Trent’s supply area.

We are delighted to have won the NGO Impact Award 2022 award from the Chartered Institute of Ecology & Environmental Management (CIEEM) for this project. This award recognises the achievement of NGOs in delivering an initiative that has had a major impact in benefitting nature and society.

NGO Impact Award Winners NGO Impact Award Winners

The impact

In just one year of the four-year project, we have successfully treated a total of 200km of waterway. This includes:

  • Targeted treatment in over 300 land-based invasive species sites 
  • Mechanical removal of floating pennywort in five of our West Midlands waterways, spanning across 11km of canal
  • Biocontrolled release of azolla weevils across 10km of waterways in the West Midlands

The team will be keeping a close eye on the presence of invasive species in their designated areas and how the project is making a positive impact to our blue and green spaces.

This regular monitoring will allow us to move forward in the most effective way as we continue to battle invasive species.

How you can join the fight against INNS

If you spend time on our canals and rivers, one of the most important things you can do is to remember to Check, Clean, Dry. These steps help stop the spread of harmful plants and animals to a new area, and should always be done before exiting a waterway - even if you are moving to another spot just a few miles away.

If you would like to volunteer on this project with us, we are currently looking for someone to help out with admin and reporting. Please contact Charles Hughes for more information.

We will also be looking for more volunteers to help manage some of the sites we are working on. Check back here for further details soon.

Last date edited: 24 June 2022