Invasive Species week 20-26 May

Reptiles have returned to ponds after the Malvern Hills Trust eradicates an invasive non-native species.

We're celebrating success this Invasive Non-native Species week (20 May to 26 May) as evidence of breeding Great crested newts has been spotted in a pond on a common near Welland.  

New Zealand Pygmy weed (Crassula helmsii), an invasive non-native pond plant, had overwhelmed a number of ponds on Castlemorton Common. This species forms a dense mat of vegetation that smothers native plants, starves the pond of light and oxygen and can have a devastating impact on amphibians and reptiles.   

With assistance from reptile and amphibian expert Nigel Hand, Central Ecology, and a local contractor Pete Hollins, the invasive species has been eradicated from local ponds.  To avoid using chemicals which would have a wide-ranging effect on the landscape, four ponds on the common were covered in silage polythene for two years.  This starved the Pygmy weed of light, killing the plant and successfully eradicating it.

Last winter, when any of the local Great Crested Newts were out of the ponds, the contractor returned to desilt, deepen and reprofile five ponds on Castlemorton common to bring them back into good condition for wildlife.

Andy Pearce, Conservation Officer said "We're delighted to have received news this week from Nigel Hand that evidence of breeding Great crested newts have been found in the restored ponds. The timing of this news, in Invasive non-native species week, has encouraged us to continue the fight against the Pygmy weed and other invasive species that have a negative impact on our local flora and fauna.  It's fantastic to see that this has been a successful restoration and would like to thank Nigel Hand and Pete Hollins for their assistance."

With climate change and the widespread global movement of people and goods, the threat of invasive species is increased. Tackling invasive non-native species including Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam, Giant Hogweed, Rhododendron and Cherry Laurel is remains an important task for the Trust in its conservation of the native habitats of the Malvern Hills and Commons.