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Victorian Escapee Arrested - Giant Hog Weed Under Control

4th July 2012

Photograph of Victorian Escapee Arrested - Giant Hog Weed Under Control

Giant Hogweed is an impressive plant from the Caucasus region of far eastern Europe which can grow up to 12 feet tall and can have a flower head up to a foot across. These impressive statistics made it a plant that was sought after for Victorian estate gardens. In the Highlands it is thought that the climate has limited the plant's spread from Victorian gardens and it is only found in a few places and, apart from the River Nairn, it does not cover a substantial area. But with our climate warming this could create the right conditions for further expansion of the Giant Hogweed along the rivers in Highland.

To stop this happening and to get this species under control work was started on the Balnagown River by the Cromarty Firth Fishery Trust and on the Auldearn Burn by the landowners there to control the plant. However this work stopped by 2009 so The Highland Council decided to identify the main areas of Giant Hogweed not under active control and secure funding to coordinate control.

A three-year grant was secured from SNH with match funding from the council to coordinate control of the Giant Hogweed on the Auldearn Burn and around Munlochy. A local land agent, Bowlts, was paid to contact all the owners and arrange access for a single contractor to spray all the sites in Spring. Each landowner payed for the spraying required on their ground.

At Munlochy, within just one year of spraying, there has been a noticeable difference in the cover of Giant Hogweed. At Auldearn the cover has reduced significantly since 2006 but there are still a few plants springing up due to the large seedbed and the fact the seeds can stay dormant for over 5 years, but it is very much under control.

In 2011 the Inverness Non-Native Plants Project started, partially funded by the Landfill Communities Fund, this is tackling species such as Himalayan Balsam and Giant Hogweed in the Inverness area. In 2012 coordinated control works started on the River Nairn by The Findhorn, Nairn and Lossie Fishery Trust and the riparian landowners.

In 2012 a further 4 years of funding of Giant Hogweed Control coordination was secured from SNH with match funding from Highland Council. This will continue the work underway in Auldearn and Munlochy. This is a long term project but by acting now, a great deal of money will be saved both in terms of control costs and also reducing any income lost due to this plants impact on local businesses.

Photo from Wikipedia
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