Invasive Species Control

Invasive Species Control

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Schedule 9) lists over 40 plant species that are of serious concern to local and national biodiversity due to their invasive nature.  It is a criminal offence to plant or cause to grow a non-native invasive species listed in Schedule 9 in the wild.  The penalties for doing so includes a large fine and a prison sentence of up to 2 years.

Although it is not illegal to have these plants on your land, allowing Japanese knotweed to grow on someone else’s property could result in prosecution or you could be issued with a community protection notice.  The Infrastructure Act (2015) and Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act (2014) also enable certain bodies the power to forcibly treat or remove invasive species.

Of those listed in Schedule 9, the most commonly encountered species are Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam and Giant hogweed.

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is a fast-growing and strong clump-forming perennial, with tall, dense annual stems. In early summer the bamboo-like stems emerge from rhizomes deep underground, shooting up to over 2 metres and suppressing all other plant growth. Capable of growing up to 10 cm in a day, Japanese knotweed out competes most of the native vegetation found in the UK today.  It forms thick, dense stands that cast shade on the area below, limiting the growth of other species and seriously reducing local biodiversity. These thick stands can reduce the capacity of channels to carry flood water, causing upstream flooding. When the stands die back in winter, the river bank is then exposed to erosion.

Japanese knotweed can seriously damage buildings, hard surfaces and infrastructure. The underground structure of rhizomes slowly expand, exploiting any cracks or voids. Once established, it can be very hard to control and will exacerbate any existing weakness in structures, such as drains or patios. Its presence on development land causes economic loss to the construction sector, primarily through the cost of control and eradication.

When Japanese knotweed is present on development sites it causes significant and costly delays to homebuilders.  For domestic properties, its presence can result in the refusal of mortgages or building insurance by lenders, delay or prevent the sale of a property, and even reduce the property’s value.

Sadly, Japanese knotweed cannot be ignored or left untreated.  Due to the speed and ferocity of its growth, it will only become more difficult to treat and incur more expensive removal costs.  Not with-standing the potential structural and financial implications, there are laws that must be adhered to regarding what you must, can and cannot do with Japanese knotweed.

How can we help?

The Wildscapes team are Property Care Association (PCA) accredited and have experience working with construction companies, local authorities and private landowners in the fight against Japanese knotweed and other invasive species.  Our surveyors are fully qualified and we have the skills in house to offer a full Japanese knotweed eradication plan – from identification through to final treatment.

If you suspect that Japanese knotweed is growing on your land then please feel free to send us some photos and we can provide a quick ID.  Alternatively, we can offer a site survey to confirm the full extent of the infestation. 

There are a variety of treatment methods available from chemical treatment to full excavation, and we will develop a tailored eradication plan dependent on your needs – timescale, budget, environmental factors and severity of Japanese knotweed problem.

Japanese Knotweed Removal
Wildscapes are PCA members

Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is a tall, cow parsley-like plant with thick, purple spotted bristly stems and large, white umbrella like clusters of flowers.

Plants can grow up to 5 metres in height and produce up to 50,000 seeds each year.  Often found along riverbanks, streams and canals, giant hogweed rapidly expands as it sends its seeds into the water to be dispersed by its flow.

Although it can be attractive to look at once fully grown, giant hogweed is not only invasive but potentially harmful.  When it comes into contact with skin, chemicals in the sap can cause severe dermatological problems including blistering, pigmentation and long-lasting scars.

Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) can be identified by its pink-purple helmet shaped flowers, fleshy hollow stems and lance shaped serrated leaves.

Typically found in damp ground and along riverbanks, Himalayan balsam can grow from seed to over 2.5m in one season, rapidly smothering native flora and leaving riverbanks at risk of erosion and collapse.

It is imperative that Himalayan balsam is controlled before it sets seed as a single plant can produce up to 800 seeds.  Once ripe, the explosive seed pods propel the seeds widely, up to 7 metres away from the plant.

Japanese knotweed leaves - close up
Himalayan balsam in bloom

Access creation and improvement

We offer a wide range of services to make sites easily accessible; from building and improving footpaths to adjoining land management and installing site furniture. We are qualified to use high quality machinery which speeds up the time of creating/improving access points where appropriate.

We provide clearance of public right of ways (PROW), and specialise in labour intensive work on sites where use of large machinery may be intrusive, inappropriate or inaccessible. We make sites more easily accessible whilst protecting wildlife. We are experienced at delivering PROW works within a wide range of habitats, be it extensive moorland habitats to urban woodlands.

Boundary work and Improvements

Wildscapes deliver boundary improvements to greenspace sites consisting of:

  • Post and wire fencing
  • Post and rail fencing
  • Vehicle barriers
  • Access points and entrance gates
  • Dry stone walling

We use locally sourced materials wherever possible, enabling you to support the local economy by working with us. Our materials are sustainably sourced, with all of our timber for our fencing being of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard. This means you can be reassured that the work we deliver for you isn’t damaging to the environment.

Grounds Maintenance

Wildscapes provides competitive grounds maintenance services for a range of clients. We specialise in nature reserves, schools, neighbourhood parks and housing landscapes, bringing real quality to some of the most challenging urban locations. Our experience of involving users results in a safer and better-valued outdoor environment.

Conservation Management

We work with landowners who are required to manage their landholdings to Local Wildlife Sites, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) standards, and with conservation organisations implementing enhancement or restoration works. Our experience includes woodland, wetland, meadows and heathland management, as well as maintenance for grazing infrastructure, firebreak creation and scrub clearance.

Habitat creation and restoration

We are extremely passionate about creating new habitats to be enjoyed by both people and wildlife. To add to our passion we have a proven track record in the successful delivery and creation of new habitats through our Land Management service.

We pride ourselves in constructing, managing and maintaining all types of outdoor spaces; ensuring that the clients and end-users are at the heart of service. Our team are all trained in practical land management with the relevant technical accreditations and practical conservation knowledge. Together this provides our clients the assurance that our service is safe, efficient, of the highest quality and practical to fit to the needs of users both during and on completion of projects.

Whether our clients are required to re-instate lost habitat via the planning process or are investing in local green infrastructure for employees or communities, Wildscapes has extensive experience of creating a range of natural habitats such as ponds, wetlands, flower-rich grassland, woodlands or artificial habitat such as otter holts, badger setts or water vole ditches.

Invasive Species Control

If you’re having difficulties with invasive species our land management team can help you save time and expense and also prevent you from breaking the law.

Professional support when dealing with invasive species can save time, expense and diminish health risks. Wildscapes can advise on appropriate management and differing control techniques for these problem species, and is licensed to undertake practical removal and control work on site.   Our team are experienced and trained to eradicate species such as Japanese Knot weed, giant hogweed and Himalayan balsam, which can course serious and ongoing problems for both existing and new development.

Japanese knotweed can compromise the structural integrity of buildings and pavements and if left untreated will reduce both the amenity value of a site and its commercial value. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 requires that landowner or land tenants take all reasonable steps to control Japanese knotweed from infringing into adjoining land. Penalties for causing an infestation can be as serious as two years imprisonment and/or a large fine. The Environmental Protection Act 1990, Duty of Care Regulations 1991, states that cut knotweed materials and soil containing rhizomes must be disposed of as controlled waste if they are to be removed from their site origin.

The Weeds Act 1959 requires that the following plants are controlled:

  • Creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense)
  • Spear thistle (Cirsium vulgare)
  • Broad-leaved dock (Rumex obtusifolius)
  • Curled dock (Rumex crispus)
  • Common ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)

These plants do have some ecological value so action should only be taken to prevent them from spreading in large quantities to other areas or, in the case of common ragwort, to prevent them from adversely affecting livestock.

Tree planting

Our Team are experienced in the art of tree planting; whether it be habitat restoration via woodland creation in remote moorland cloughs; tree planting as part of schools or volunteer day events or planting of native hedgerow or native trees as part of landscaping schemes. We have worked for a variety of clients from large scale conservation organisations such as RSPB and National Trust, to councils, including Sheffield City Council and Rotherham MBC, and private individuals.

Moorland Conservation

Our land management team have an exceptional local knowledge and as a result have helped restore some of the most damaged areas of moorland in the UK. With expert heathland and moorland restoration skills, we work on a number of projects throughout the winter months to help stabilise bare peat. This is achieved through a combination of methods including the spreading of heather cuttings (brash) to prevent any further deterioration of the bare peat, and the planting of sphagnum and other native moorland plants to create a healthy blanket bog. We specialise in delivering moorland restoration works to remote areas, using working methods that protect the surrounding ecological and archaeological valuable habitats and features.

Wildflower ID Workshop

This course provides a day’s introduction to the identification of wildflowers with an emphasis on the most common plant families and basic flower structure.

We will spend the morning in the classroom before heading out to a local nature reserve in the afternoon.  Following the course, attendees should be able to;

– Recognise the key diagnostic features used to identify wildflowers

– Recognise members of the 9 most common families of wildflowers

– Learn to identify a number of common species

– Become familiar with the use of keys to identify species

The course is aimed at anyone with a general interest in botany, no previous knowledge is required.

Winter Tree ID Workshop

Do you know your ash from your alder?

If you do, you’ll know that ash trees have distinctive black buds, whilst the buds of the common alder often have a striking purple tinge. 

If you’re still in the dark, you can learn the secrets of tree identification in winter with this day-long course run by our Wildscapes ecologists. We will spend the morning in the classroom looking at winter identification features before heading out to a local park to practice identifying trees, and end the day with a fun quiz to test your knowledge.

The course is aimed at anybody with a general interest in tree identification, no previous knowledge is required.

An Introduction to Phase 1 Habitat Surveys

This one day course provides the detail on how to conduct a Phase 1 Habitat Survey – an essential skill for quickly surveying and mapping habitat types.

The course covers understanding how to plan, conduct and write up a Phase 1 survey. There will be a classroom-based introduction in the morning, followed by the opportunity to try out techniques in the field in a local park.

Following the course, attendees should be equipped with the skills to; 

– Understand the methodology of a Phase 1 Habitat Survey

– Be able to use mapping techniques, target notes and create a species list

– Understand the key indicator species to identify habitats

– Understand the basic report format

– Understand the options for mapping

– Understand how Phase 1 surveys are used and their role within extended surveys and PEAs

An Introduction to Bat Surveys

This one day course is aimed at people entering or working in the ecology sector who want to get an introduction to bat surveying before the start of the survey season. The course covers:

– An introduction to the biology and ecology of bats

– An introduction to the identification of British bats

– An introduction to bat legislation

– How to plan and conduct a Preliminary Roost Assessment on buildings, identifying potential for bat roosts

– How to plan and conduct ground based tree assessments, identifying potential for bat roosts

– An introduction to aerial survey techniques with a demonstration of tree climbing and use of endoscopes

– An introduction to nocturnal activity surveys

– Bat walk in a local park, practicing using bat detectors