Invasive Non Native Species - Medway Catchment
Funded by the Environment Agency, Maidstone Borough Council, Yalding Parish Council, Kent County Council's West Kent Public Rights of Way and Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council and with some landowner contributions, we are working to control and raise awareness of invasive non-native plant species across the Medway catchment.
Concentrating mainly on riverbank plant species, via liaising with hundreds of landowners, we are controlling species on the main river Medway as well as it's tributaries the Teise, Lesser Teise and Beult plus some smaller side streams too.
Invasive non-native species can reduce habitat availability for native species, reduce biodiversity, cause riverbank erosion, increased siltation and flood risk, cause physical harm and damage infrastructure and recreation.
We are currently controlling giant hogweed, floating pennywort, water fern, Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam with a variety of methods.
Working with CABI via funding from RAPID LIFE we are using a biocontrol method for water fern and assisting CABI with other biocontrol trials for Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam. Whilst we currently control other species chemically, we continue to search for more organic methods which are suitable on a catchment wide scale.
If you are a landowner with Japanese knotweed which is not controlled as part of this scheme, please contact us to discuss a private treatment plan.
All our invasive plant survey data is uploaded into INNSMAPPER.
Vespa velutina, the yellow legged hornet, commonly known as the Asian hornet, is native to Asia but was confirmed for the first time in South West France in 2004 and first recorded in the UK in 2016, with periodic reports of individuals and nests in the UK in subsequent years.
The hornet preys on honeybees and other insects and so it has the potential to alter the biodiversity in regions where it is prevalent.
It can also be a health risk to those who have allergies to hornet or wasp stings.
The Asian hornet is smaller than our native European hornet, with adult workers measuring from 25mm in length and queens measuring 30mm. It's abdomen is mostly black except for it's fourth abdominal segment which is a yellow band located towards the rear. It has characteristically yellow lower legs and it's face is orange with two brownish red compound eyes (Beebase 2020).
Whilst it is good that many people are now aware of this species, many European Hornets have unfortunately been getting persecuted due to mistaken identity.
For this reason, and to assist with the awareness raising and reporting of any Asian hornets as and when they arrive in the UK, MVCP have joined the Asian Hornet Action Team.
If you think you have seen an Asian hornet, in the first instance you should report it through the free Asian hornet watch app. There are other reporting methods too and you can also find your local Asian Hornet Action Team contact via the British Beekeeping Association Website and the Asian Hornet Action Team Map. For the Maidstone and Mid Kent area you'll now see MVCP listed as your local contact for any potential sightings and questions about identification.
Where possible, a photo, the location of the sighting and a description of the insect seen should be included or on hand when contacting or reporting.
You can get the links to all the reporting methods and see the AHAT map with contact details on the British Beekeeping Association Website. Click anywhere here to be connected to the BBKA website.
Photo: Asian Hornet © Jean Haxaire
From 2016 to 2019, with Heritage Lottery funding, we delivered the Past Plants, Future Flora project, the educational aarm of our invasive non-native species work.
Via this project we highlighted the importance of plant life and celebrated botanical discovery. We also highlighted that it's not about nativeness, it's about invasiveness, and thus highlighted that many non-native species are perfectly safe and support our native diversity.
As a legacy of this project, we have a School Pack, full of useful information about native and non-native plant species, as well as our own children's book about habitat management. Please contact MVCP to get a copy of these resources.
Working to support the Non-Native-Species Secretariat, we help to highlight their important biosecurity campaign, Check, Clean, Dry. If you work for a school, youth group or river user group such as a boating or angling club, we would be more than happy to discuss an educational session with you, so we can help improve plant identification as well as pass on this important information about biosecurity. Please contact us to discuss.
Local River Warden volunteers and landowners are actively involved in surveying, monitoring and plant control as well as other duties. If you are interesting in becoming a volunteer, in sharing your own invasive species data, or if you are a landowner with an invasive species and currently not registered as part of our scheme, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Our river habitats were safe and diverse but the introduction of non-native invasive species has had a devastating impact. Some plants are also dangerous to touch.
Via Heritage Lottery Fund and Environment Agency funding, this educational book was produced by Medway Valley Countryside Partnership as part of their Past Plants, Future Flora project. The book is intended to be inspiring and promote a general appreciation for nature whilst also telling the tale of how invasive plant life has spread. Raising awareness of this issue reduces the risk of injury with regards to some plants and helps Medway Valley Countryside Partnership decrease the spread of invasive species.
You can download the book for free but please contact us if you would like to hard copy (small charge to cover printing and postage and whilst stock lasts).