Be Plant Wise: Defra’s latest campaign takes root on the Wandle

For the past few years, the Wandle Trust has led grass-roots efforts to tackle invasive non-native species (INNS) such as Himalayan balsam, floating pennywort and giant hogweed on the Wandle.

Last summer, Bella and our volunteers undertook an extensive mapping project along the river, identifying sites where INNS appeared, and collaborating very closely with Jo Heisse, our local Environment Agency Biodiversity Officer, to create a London-wide INNS forum.

So last Thursday we were delighted to see all Jo’s hard work bearing fruit – and Defra choosing the Wandle as their launch location for a UK-wide campaign to stop the spread of many INNS that reduce biodiversity and threaten to create what environmental writer David Quammen calls a “planet of weeds”.

In true Government 2.0 style, Defra’s Be Plant Wise launch included a YouTube two-hander: firstly from Minister for Marine and Natural Environment Huw Irranca-Davies beside a rain-lashed River Wandle in the National Trust’s Morden Hall Park

… and then a chat with National Treasure Charlie Dimmock in front of her own garden water feature:

With our encouragement, the EA dedicated around £50k last winter to dealing with the river’s very serious floating pennywort problem: the second phase of this work is now underway, and with help from local landowners, we finally hope to get this fast-spreading species under control.

Meanwhile, we’re busily planning a Big Balsam Blitz on the upper river for June’s Wandle Valley Festival. So stay tuned to our Calendar page for more information about how you can get involved!

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