Work to stop invasive plants is paying off

By County Echo Reporter in Environment

PEMBROKESHIRE Coast National Park officers have enlisted the support of Fishguard and Goodwick Town Council in their ongoing fight against invasive and non-native plant species.

National Park chiefs are seeking Heritage Lottery funding they hope will enable them to eradicate or control Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam and rhodedendron – particularly in places such as the Gwaun Valley.

Biodiversity officer Sarah Mellor revealed they were running a two-year pilot project over a 26-hectare site within the valley, stretching up to Llanychaer.

“We have broken the back of it and now we need to keep the momentum up,” she said.

“The hope is that within eight to 10 years, these species will have been eradicated or at least prevented from leaving these designated areas.”

She added that Park officials had been working with 32 local landowners and would be encouraging community groups to start up their own projects.

“We will be submitting our first-round lottery bid in June, and the next step would be the development phase nine months to a year down the line when we would have to bid again,” she explained.

Responding to an enquiry from Cllr Kevin Siggins, she agreed they needed to raise awareness of the dangers of landowners attempting to uproot such invasive species and dumping them elsewhere.

Cllr Gwilym Price said there was a “tremendous” knotweed problem in Goodwick - particularly in the area around St Peter’s Church – which was spreading towards Manorowen.

“I’m really concerned about it,” he said. “It’s having a huge effect on property prices – I know some people who cannot sell their houses because of it.”

Ms Mellor, however, said they would have to concentrate on areas within the National Park.

“It’s really hard but we’re going to have to draw the line somewhere otherwise we’ll be spreading our resources too thinly,” she added.

“There is no magic bullet, but we have to ask ourselves what kind of landscape do we want to see in the next 20, 30 or 40 years?”

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