Volunteers tackle super weed at wildlife haven

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VOLUNTEERS from Ballymaguigan Community Group joined forces with the Ulster Wildlife Trust on Saturday 7th July at Moyola Waterfoot, on the shores of Lough Neagh, to remove an invasive alien super weed.

Listed as one of the top-ten most wanted invasive species, Himalayan balsam has rapidly colonised this picturesque nature reserve - which forms part of an Area of Special Scientific Interest - and is on the verge of choking out native wildlife.

As the plant is quite shallow rooted, the volunteers set to work by pulling it out by hand, before it had a chance to set seed.

Deborah McLaughlin, Nature Reserves Officer with the Ulster Wildlife Trust said eradiation was essential to protect the nature reserve’s biodiversity.

“Although attractive with its pretty purple flowers, Himalayan balsam is not native to Ireland and can quickly swamp large areas if left unchecked. It seeds profusely during the summer and the only way to restrict new growth next year is to remove it before it sets seed.

“But eradication means hand-pulling, which is hard work and requires lots of help to make an impact. We would like to say a massive thank-you to everyone who volunteered today, making that extra special effort to help us keep Moyola clear of this alien invader.”

The Ulster Wildlife Trust manages 18 nature reserves across Northern Ireland. If you’d like to lend your support as a volunteer, visit www.ulsterwildlifetrust.org