The Ashby Canal Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is a site of national importance for aquatic plants. However, a number of factors are having an impact on the condition of the site. One of these factors is the increase in non-native invasive species.
While we don't want them anywhere on our canals or rivers, invasive species are particularly unwanted in our SSSIs where the native species may be particularly rare. As invasive species don't have the predators they do in their native areas, they can spread unchecked, out-competing our native species, which do have predators.
We work closely with Natural England on the management of all our SSSI sites. When they offered us the chance of a grant to help remove these invaders, we jumped at it.
We're going to tackle:
- Mink, which preys on small animals, fish and birds (including family pets) and causes a nuisance to moored boats
- Terrapins - they prey on dragonfly and damselfly larvae, small fish and frogspawn. These unwanted pets will hopefully be rehomed
- Zander, which is a predatory fish, which has a big impact on native coarse fish species
- Japanese Knotweed, which spreads quickly and can damage property. We're treating a large area to prevent small branches snapping off and flowing downstream
- Giant Hogweed, which is a large and imposing plant whose sap can cause burns. There's a large community near Market Bosworth, which we've already treated and hopefully eradicated
We're also tackling Orange Balsam, with the help of our long-standing volunteer partners, the Ashby Canal Association. They regularly undertake small works along the Ashby Canal and were keen to get involved in this project.
Although not as fast spreading as its Himalayan cousin, Orange Balsam grows faster than native species and out-competes them for light and nutrients. By removing this invasive (albeit pretty) plant, we'll be helping native vegetation to recover.