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News article created on 22 May 2015

Regent’s Canal rid of invasive American plant

An invasive plant that poses a threat to native species has been ripped out from a one kilometre stretch of the Regent’s Canal in central London this month, to help protect the local eco-system.

We have backed the work by the London Invasive Species Initiative (LISI) to clear the towpath of invasive, non-native Pale Galingale (Cyperus eragrostis).  

If left to grow the species, which originates from America, can spread rapidly and could threaten other important habitats along the canals, as well as spreading to other habitats in the capital.

Threaten canal habitats

The canal is a particularly vulnerable spot because the water can transfer the Galingale seeds over long distances. The stretch the team worked on began on the Regent’s Canal just off Lisson Grove, all the way down to Regent’s Park.

Pale Galingale is just one of the invasive non-native species that bloom on the waterways during the spring and summer. Other non-native plants and animals people can see include: Orange and Himalayan balsam, Tree-of-heaven, Japanese Knotweed, terrapins and American Signal Crayfish.

Huge potential to spread

Karen Harper, London Invasive Species Initiative Manager, who led the team doing the work, said: “Pale Galingale has huge potential to spread as it produces masses of seeds throughout the year which are easily moved along the canal network. By treating this population before it spreads we can limit the damage it does. In London this is especially important as urban centres are known hot spots for attracting and fostering new invasive non-native species. If we act sooner rather than later we are able to achieve better results, both for the environment and our pockets.”

Richard Bennett, Canal & River Trust environment manager, added: “The Regent’s Canal is home to huge variety of wildlife, which we know people really enjoy getting close to when they visit. But it’s important we watch the invasive species that could have a negative impact if they’re allowed to thrive. We’ve been monitoring the Pale Galingale, and now is definitely the right time to strike. We appreciate all the work the London Invasive Species Initiative has done to get rid of it.”

Find out more about invasive species on the canals