Wildlife watch Man­age­ment of non-na­tive plants is a big task

Hamilton Advertiser - - WILDLIFE WATCH -

Scot­tish Wildlife Trust’s Falls of Clyde Wildlife re­serve as­sis­tant ranger Jenny Mann turns her at­ten­tion to man­ag­ing in­va­sive trees and plants

This week on the re­serve, our team of vol­un­teers have been help­ing to re­move some non-na­tive veg­e­ta­tion.

Much of con­ser­va­tion to­day is fo­cused on in­va­sive plants and trees that out-com­pete our na­tive species and change the nat­u­ral world around us.

While Falls of Clyde looks like a nat­u­ral land­scape, many of the trees and plants here are, in fact, in­va­sive, and by re­mov­ing them from the re­serve we are al­low­ing nat­u­ral ecosys­tems a chance to re­gen­er­ate and boost bio­di­ver­sity.

The species we have been tack­ling re­cently are rhodo­den­dron, beech and Nor­way maple.

Rhodo­den­dron is a shrub that is es­tab­lished all over the coun­try, and while it can look pretty in our gar­dens it has the po­ten­tial to cause ex­treme dam­age.

The plant it­self is toxic to her­bi­vores and can re­duce the num­bers of earth­worms in the area around it, fur­ther im­pact­ing on food for birds and mam­mals.

It also grows so large that it smoth­ers other plants, out- com­pet­ing them for sun­light and soil nu­tri­ents.

On our re­serve you will see rhodo­den­dron within the gorge past Corra Linn – most of these are so large they will be man­aged with a her­bi­cide in­jec­tion.

Else­where on the re­serve, we pull smaller patches by the root, re­mov­ing them com­pletely from the soil.

Beech and Nor­way maple are large canopied trees that can quite eas­ily out-com­pete na­tive trees for sun­light.

You will see many beech trees within the re­serve and ‘se­cretly’ we find them quite mag­i­cal at this time of year, when their rusty leaves float in the breeze around us.

Hav­ing said that, we want to avoid more of these species tak­ing root, so will re­move any saplings that we find.

Long-term habi­tat man­age­ment al­lows us to let na­ture take its course with well-es­tab­lished trees.

How­ever, by en­cour­ag­ing na­tive species to re­gen­er­ate in the un­der­story, we are pro­vid­ing more nat­u­ral habi­tats for our wildlife and en­sur­ing fu­ture gen­er­a­tions can en­joy the Falls of Clyde in its nat­u­ral form.

Non-na­tive Trees such as this beech are in­va­sive species that need to be man­aged at the Falls of Clyde (Pic by Stu­art Petch)

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