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Invasive plant threatens Lancashire reservoir

A Lancashire reservoir has been invaded by a non-native aquatic plant which could block drains and cause flooding and also threaten the recreational use of the reservoir for anglers and sailors.

Lower Foulridge Reservoir has been infested with New Zealand pygmy weed (Crassula helmsil) which forms a dense mat of vegetation. Lower Foulridge reservoir sits in the Pennines on the Lancashire-Yorkshire border close to Colne and is a feeder reservoir for the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

Since discovering the plant in the reservoir we have attempted to kill off the plant by spraying it with herbicide. We're now working with anglers and sailors who use the reservoir to join in the campaign to try to stop the spread of the weed.

National problem

We have met with officials from the local angling and sailing clubs to enlist their support and now signs are to be erected around the reservoir warning of the need to keep their equipment clean to prevent the plant spreading.

New Zealand pygmy weed is a national problem and the ‘Be Plant Wise' campaign has been launched with the support of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs to warn the public of the danger.

Canal & River Trust ecologist Tom King said: “New Zealand pygmy weed poses a real threat. The plants forms dense mats which out competes most native aquatic plants and blocks out light affecting fish and invertebrates.

“Finding New Zealand pygmy weed in Lower Foulridge reservoir highlights the government's ‘Be Plant Wise' campaign launched to raise awareness of the damage caused by invasive aquatic plants and the need to dispose of them correctly.”

Be Plant Wise

The Be Plant Wise campaign urges gardeners to be aware of the threat of invasive plants which can take over ponds and damage the environment.

Gardeners should not move pond plants around as even tiny fragments can lead to massive problems and they need to be careful when maintaining their pond and disposing of waste water. Aquatic plants should never be dumped in the wild - you could be breaking the law

Last Edited: 17 November 2014

photo of a location on the canals
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