Conservation workers from the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) are abseiling into one of the most spectacular gorges of Scotland to tackle the Japanese knotweed scourge. The enlisted team of recreational gorge scramblers are to assist in the rooting of the invasive plant out of the Corrieshalloch Gorge, near Ullapool. According to the National Trust, the non-native species like the knotweed and Rhododendron ponticum are suppressing other plants in the flora-rich gorge. These are even growing in extremely difficult to access areas. These invasive plants spreading into the ravine and along the River Broom and threaten to block the sunlight and hinder the growth of the other plants. The knotweed can actually loosen river banks with its root system.
The workers who descend into the Corrieshalloch Gorge will identify the species the areas infested with the invasive plants, weed-wipe, inject or spray them with a measured dose of herbicide. The National Trust says the efforts are useful in protecting the diverse range of flora and fauna of the gorge. The Corrieshalloch has native trees of the gorge include rowan, hazel, aspen, lichens, ferns, mosses and many others. Animals which inhabit the ravine and depend on the flora include red squirrels, golden eagles and ravens.Commenting on the move, Rob Dewar, a nature conservation advisor with NTS said that the Japanese knotweed and the rhododendron ponticum are an extreme threat to the rich diversity of the Corrieshalloch Gorge. Dewar also said the plants are in a very extreme place to access and thorough measures need to be taken in order to ensure we identify the affected areas and remove the invasive plants.
The Japanese knotweed poses a range of challenges in its existence as well as in its eradication. The weed rapidly spreads and encroaches an area. In the winter, the plant dies back to the ground level but it will come up in summer from rhizomes which grow to bamboo-like stems that can grow over 7 feet, suppressing all other plants. A lot of determination is needed in eradicating the knotweed whether you’ll do it manually or use chemicals.Now with the assistance of Scotland’s gorge scrambling community, who are regular visitors of the Corrieshalloch, the NTS will try to control the knotweed. The invasive plants will sooner or later invade into most of the areas making them inaccessible to individuals as well as regular surveys. The scramblers are able to spot affected colonies that other people would not find. To this, Dewar commented that the gorge scrambling community is acting as the NTS eyes in the difficult depths and corners of the Corrieshalloch.When further adding on the efforts of the NTS and conservation workers, Rob Dewar said they want to utilise as much as they can their knowledge to tackle colonies of the invasive species. These may be missed in other situations and what they are all doing will make a big difference.