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Success for the 2013 control season

After the delayed start to the 2013 control program, due to the prolonged cold weather of the 2012/13 winter, treatment of Giant Hogweed began across the CIRB catchments in April and May. Treatment progressed very well across all of the CIRB catchments in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland, with several catchments also receiving a second spray. Reductions in the number of Giant Hogweed plants from 2012 were also noted across many of the project catchments.

The warm and dry summer months boosted the 2013 control efforts for both Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed as spraying was not halted by the wet weather that plagued the 2012 season. Himalayan Balsam control was completed during July and August in all project catchments. Balsam bashing events were again held in many areas in Scotland with great support from local volunteers.

Japanese knotweed treatment on the Dee & Glyde catchment
Japanese knotweed after treatment on the Faughan catchment

Japanese Knotweed treatment commenced during late summer and was completed in October in all catchments as scheduled. The use of an ATV in several catchments has also proved very beneficial to the treatment of large stands of Japanese knotweed.

Help from local volunteer groups has once again greatly aided the continued effort to tackle invasive species on project catchments, and will be invaluable in years to come.


CIRB Project Signs 

Raising public awareness of the threat of invasive species is one of the key aims of the CIRB project. As such the project has been developing catchment specific signs that will give important information on invasive species, as well as key ID features and what to do if you spot an invasive species in your area.

These signs are currently being erected in all CIRB project catchments. It is hoped that the information they provide will be invaluable in helping prevent the spread of these harmful invasive plants.

Tweed Giant Hogweed Control: 10 years on... 

As part of a 10 year programme of on-going giant hogweed control on the Tweed, independent monitoring work undertaken during July and August 2013 has shown how effective the control programme has been.

Monitoring at six sites which were badly infected has shown that both giant hogweed and Japanese knotweed have been virtually eradicated. A diligent team of dedicated Tweed Forum contractors is ensuring that there is on-going effective treatment. Encouragingly, a broad range of native plant species is recolonizing the treated areas.

Lower Tweed giant hogweed site in 2003
The same site in 2013
Ettrick Water Japanese knotweed site in 2003
The same site in summer 2013

Arran Island Awareness Weekend 

The Ayrshire Rivers Trust held an awareness weekend on the island of Arran on the 17th-18th August. Three project staff along with the CIRB project manager attended the weekend and presented talks to locals on invasive species. In addition, demonstrations were held on surveying and recording sightings on the website.

The weekend was a great success and locals have already started recording sightings. Since the event, training in pesticide spraying has been organised for a number of volunteers on the island, who will be ready to carry out control in key areas in 2014.

Japanese Knotweed Control Success 

As part of the CIRB project, the Ayrshire Rivers Trust have been tackling Japanese Knotweed on the River Irvine. On completion of the 2012 treatment program, areas were cleared of the dead stems to allow any regrowth of the invasive or native species to be closely monitored.

Monitoring of these sites has revealed that control work has been very successful and a large number of native species have recolonised the previously infested areas. Treatment will continue in these areas to tackle any remaining Japanese Knotweed.

Japanese knotweed prior to control in 2012
After control in Winter 2012
After dead stem clearance
The same area in May 2013

One year on in Ayrshire: 2012 to 2013

Positive reductions in Giant Hogweed density and distribution were noted from the previous year’s control program in many areas in Ayrshire, including the Schaw Burn and Enterkine Banking, indicating further treatment success in CIRB catchments.

Schaw Burn 2012
Schaw Burn 2013
Enterkine Banking May 2012
Enterkine Banking May 2013

Survey Drones 

Aerial drones are now in use by the CIRB project as a valuable surveying tool and a means to carry out risk assessments on potentially unsafe terrain in inaccessible areas prior to treatment.

Flight training took place in Ayrshire in March 2013 and the drones have been in use through the 2013 field season to maximise the potential of invasive species discovery and therefore increase the success of control work.

Aerial Drone in flight
Aerial view of site on the Tweed catchment

Biosecurity Kits: A First for IFI and the CIRB Project

Individual Angler Disinfection Kits produced by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and funded by the Interreg IVA CIRB Project were launched by Minister Fergus O Dowd at the Ireland Angling Show in the National Show Centre, Swords in February 2013.

The kit comprises an instruction leaflet, 20 Virkon Aquatic (50 g) tablets, a 500 ml plastic trigger spray bottle, disposable gloves, a stiff bristle brush for cleaning boots, invasive species identification cards on a key ring, a metal ‘Stop the spread of invasive species’ badge, and an array of pertinent invasive species literature. All is contained in a convenient and durable carrier bag. This kit is the first of its type in the world and is now available from IFI and CIRB. It will help ensure that harmful aquatic invasive species are not spread by unsuspecting anglers as they move from one watercourse to another.

In addition to these individual kits, IFI have developed permanent disinfection facilities to cater for large groups of anglers attending organised competitions. These facilities were opened this year and have been well received.

New Biosecurity Kits
Disinfection Station Launch

Prosecution for dumping Japanese Knotweed in Northern Ireland

A man from Londonderry was recently prosecuted for dumping Japanese knotweed during building work at his house. Read the full story on the BBC news website.

CIRB Control and Biosecurity Conference 19th-20th February 2013

This year’s annual CIRB conference took place at the Clandeboye Estate, Co. Down in Northern Ireland on the 19th -20th February 2013. The conference titled “Invasive Species Control and Biosecurity” was attended by 70 stakeholders including project partners, governmental organisations and public bodies. The conference was opened by Professor Christine Maggs, head of the School of Biological Sciences in Queen’s University Belfast. Invasive species seminars and workshops were given by UK and ROI leading experts providing practical information on invasive species treatment methods, biosecurity, native plant restoration and also the future threats to local waterways. Informative talks were given by Dr Dario Fornara (University of Ulster) and Alba Bonas Piella (Ayrshire Rivers Trust) detailing research being carried out as part of the project. The guest speaker from CABI, Dr Robert Tanner, enlightened the conference with news and progress of biological control mechanisms and previous success stories in this field of research. The conference was a great success and we thank all participants and look forward to seeing you all at next year’s CIRB conference!

One of many informative talks at the CIRB Conference
Round Table Discussion with a panel of experts

Japanese Knotweed: One Year On, 2011 to 2012

Positive reductions in Japanese knotweed density and distribution were noted from the previous year’s control program in many catchments (see photos below). In Scotland, surveys of control work have also shown positive signs indicating a successful year of treatment, despite the bad weather conditions. 

River Faughan near Drumahoe 2011
River Faughan near Drumahoe 2012
River Glyde, Castlebellingham, 2011
River Glyde, Castlebellingham, 2012
River Glyde, Castlebellingham, 2011
River Glyde, Castlebellingham, 2012

Awareness Event Success in AyrshireAugust/September 2012

Invasive Plant Species talk to Scottish Waters

The Ayrshire Trust Manager, Stuart Brabbs, gave a presentation to Scottish water staff on the CIRB project and the impacts of invasive plant species on the 31st August. Following on from this meeting, Scottish Water have booked pesticide training for 79 members of staff.

CIRB talk to Stewarton Gardening Club & Community Group

Gordon Macdermid, CIRB project officer for Ayrshire, gave a talk to the Stewarton Gardening Club and Community Group on the 24th September. This presentation outlined the objectives of the CIRB project and the impacts of invasive species, focusing on Japanese Knotweed in particular. The Town of Stewarton has major problems with Japanese Knotweed and it was essential that awareness was raised in the community. Following this talk, the local Scout group has volunteered to help with the clearing of dead Japanese Knotweed stems to aid the control process.

For regular updates log on to Ayrshire’s blog.

Gordon Macdermid, CIRB project officer for Ayrshire Rivers Trust

Giant Hogweed: One Year On, 2011 to 2012

Noticeable differences in density and spread of Giant Hogweed were observed during 2012 in areas that had been successfully controlled during the 2011 field season. In addition, the Dee and Glyde catchment is already showing some regeneration of non-invasive plants, after receiving two full sprays during 2011 (see photos below). In Scotland, control of giant hogweed by contractors has proved to be very effective with notable reductions in plant numbers since last year.

Woodland beside River Dee 2011
Woodland beside River Dee 2012
River Dee 2011
River Dee 2012
Giant Hogweed stand beside the River Dee 2011
Giant Hogweed stand greatly reduced 2012

Clipper Homecoming Festival 5th-8th July 2012

The biggest international sailing event recently came to the shores of Lough Foyle. The festival which lasted for over a week was visited by more than 200,000 people, while the environmental exhibition saw over 10,000 people walk through their doors during its four days.

The CIRB project team manned a stand at this exhibition. This provided a great opportunity to raise awareness of the threat and impacts of invasive species in the local area, while discussing the importance of the project with stakeholders and members of the general public.


CIRB Balsam Bashes 2012

The CIRB project recently held several balsam bashes on the River Faughan, which were well supported by members of the general public, anglers, local business and community groups, and pupils and teachers from St. Joseph's School, Derry. In addition to starting to tackle the threat of Himalayan balsam in the local area, these events are being held to raise pulic awareness about the impact of invasive species and to re-engage communities with their natural environment.


Balsam Bash at Campsie Bridge, 28th April 2012, in collaboration with Derry City Council as part of their Biodiversity Campaign.


Balsam Bash with pupils and teachers from St. Joseph's School, Derry at Mobuoy Bridge followed by an information session at St. Columb's Park, 2nd May 2012. This event was a great success and the school is now carrying out an invasive species survey of their local area. We're looking forward to seeing the results.


Balsam Bash at Campsie Bridge, 17th May 2012, in collaboration with Derry City Council as part of their Biodiversity Campaign. This event was supported by local businesses and community groups including City Hotel, Invista and the Enagh Youth Forum.

CIRB Project Launch 1 February 2011  (QUB press release)

£2.6 million project to protect Irish and Scottish waterways

A £2.6 million project to protect the waterways of Ireland and Scotland will be launched today (Tuesday 1 February) at Queen's University Belfast. This critical project aims to control invasive plants, such as the giant hogweed, which are taking over river banks; limiting their use for angling and recreation, destroying ecosystems, and causing health problems for those who come into contact with the aggressive plants...[read full press release

The project launch received lots of media coverage, mainly on websites but also national and local newspapers (see below), TV and radio including BBC Newsline, BBC Scotland, Good Morning Ulster and BBC breakfast and lunchtime news. 

BBC News

Belfast Telegraph

Irish Independent

Herald Scotland

Dumfries & Galloway Standard

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