It Is All About the Journey! Wading the river on the hunt for Litter and INNS

Olympic level wading from our volunteer team on the hunt for Knotweed, Balsam and Litter!

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Olympic level wading from our volunteer team on the hunt for Knotweed, Balsam and Litter!

I am sure that many of you have heard of Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica).  It is a very persistent plant hated by landowners due to its reputation for compromising building structure.  It spreads easily as fragments of the plant, if discarded, can become established in the wild.  This is particularly a problem along riverbanks where propagules are easily dispersed downstream by the constant flow of water.  When established J.knotweed then causes ecological damage through loss of habitat and plant biodiversity.  It becomes a monoculture and when this dies back over winter it increases the river banks vulnerability to erosion. One of the main ways invasive nonnative plants get into rivers is by dumped garden cuttings.

WOLCT have a small team of three (Ian, Andrew and Charlotte) that map and stem inject this plant on the Water of Leith catchment.  The Trust manages the area between Balerno – Gorgie while the Council’s Special Ground Maintenance Team looks after the downstream area.

This year we decided that as we were wading the river anyway, we should invite more of the volunteer team to join us so that we could tackle litter and any lingering balsam left over from the pull earlier in the year. Between May and July we had already done two full sweeps of the river for Balsam.  However, its vital to remove any lingering upstream plants as those seed can spread everywhere downstream undoing all our good work over the summer.

We waded for 7 days.  44 volunteers came out to help clocking up 140 hours of time. We mapped and stem injected 420 knotweed plants and removed masses of litter as you can see from the pictures.

When wading you see the river from a unique perspective.  As we systematically worked our way downstream It really felt like an important journey.  Its wild and like a rainforest.  Clues and signs of wildlife are all around you, proving that the river is a vital wildlife corridor. Its hard work, not just in the river but on the bank shifting the heavy stuff to the pickup points.  It is extremely satisfying and thorough work.  Highlights of the adventure included Otter signs, swimming Lamprey, Fresh water sponges and a Cave Spiders inside a hidden icehouse.  We were so impressed and grateful to all the volunteers that helped.  Thank you everyone.  Same time next year?

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