New campaign launched to cull ‘alien’ plantlife

Pupils from Blackhall Primary School were helping out
Pupils from Blackhall Primary School were helping out
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AN environmental group is leading the campaign against two invasive plant species responsible for destroying native flora in one of the city’s natural beauty spots.

Edinburgh-based Earth Calling wants more done to tackle the widespread growth of Himalayan Balsam and Salmonberry in Corstorphine Woods, which they believe is “ruining” the area for indigenous species.

Both plants are known for their aggressive seed dispersal, leading to rapid growth and the eradication of local plant life.

The group is now working with local schools and scout groups to organise efforts to cull the plant in the area, including on the nearby Corstorphine Hill.

Earth Calling founder Angus Egan called on local groups to join the fight against the alien plantlife.

He said: “If people don’t have the knowledge, they might look at the plants and just assume they are meant to be there, but they don’t realise the damage they are actually doing.

“Because of how quickly and vastly these plants pollinate, they are eradicating local plant life and people don’t even realise it is happening.

“Things like bluebells, which are usually prominent at this time of year, are being dominated by these plants and even hardier plants like nettles are struggling to grow.

“They are also difficult to remove. The Himalayan Balsam can be torn out but the Salmonberry has to removed and then the roots burned to ensure it doesn’t come back.

“We are privileged to have places like Corstorphine Woods in our city and we need to take responsibility for making sure they are maintained.”

It’s thought both plants were initially brought to the British Isles in the mid-19th century around the same time as the notorious Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed were introduced.

However, despite being intended for personal growth, the plants soon broke out of gardens and began growing quickly in the wild.

Earth Calling previously hosted a mass culling of the plant in Davidson’s Mains woods in 2011 and has since organised group pulling of the plants with local scout groups in Comely Bank.

A city council spokesman revealed park rangers were aware of the problem and had implemented a “programme of works” to address the issue.

He said: “These are invasive plants which affect many parks and woods across the UK. Our rangers have an action plan to reduce their spread in Corstorphine Woods but it will take time to tackle.

“It’s fantastic to have helping hands from the local community and we appreciate the offer of support from volunteers. We urge anyone keen to help to get in touch.”