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Conservation & Education

Invasive species can have a major impact on biodiversity. They can transform ecosystems, and threaten native and endangered species. The problems caused by invasive non-native species are so serious that their introduction is identified as one of the main causes of biodiversity loss worldwide. Their economic impact in Europe has been estimated at over €12 billion per year, and they cost around £7.5 million to control each year in Britain alone.

Both terrestrial and aquatic habitats can be negatively affected, resulting in grave damage to conservation and economic interests, such as agriculture, forestry, tourism and civil infrastructure. In some cases public, animal and plant health may also be threatened.

The CIRB project aims to control four invasive riparian plant species that are particularly significant in threatening biodiversity in Ireland and Scotland: Giant Hogweed, Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam and Rhododendron. All four were originally introduced as ornamentals but now threaten the riparian (and broader) habitat due to their ability to rapidly and effectively exploit these habitats by outcompeting native species. Seasonal die back of three of these invasive species in winter leaves extensive areas of riverbank bare and more susceptible to erosion. In addition, Giant Hogweed contains toxic sap that is considered to be a serious and significant danger to public health.

Contact Information

cirb@qub.ac.uk

+44 (0) 28 9097 2412

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