We often paddle different waterways and don’t think about the effect we can have if we are not cleaning our boards after use.
Invasive species are a problem along our waterways and one of the causes can be the transfer of these from our paddleboards. Invasive plant species can cause navigation and water control problems, in addition they can reduce habitat availability and the quality of the water.
Below are the main invasive species we find on our waterways:
Japenese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam & Floating Pennywort
Can look pretty and is a delicate pink flower found on the riverbanks. It
grows in dense thickets and projects its seeds up to four metres away,
meaning it can quickly dominate any ecosystems it’s introduced to.
These thickets can impede water flow, as well leaving riverbanks vulnerable
to erosion when dieback occurs over Winter. Himalayan Balsam pollen proves particularly enticing for visiting insects, which researchers believe may decrease the pollination of native plants.
Himalayan Balsam is also referred to as Gnome’s Hatstand, which would be cute if it weren’t so destructive.
Grows almost everywhere, from cities to rural land and riverbanks to
railway lines. Even the smallest fragment of knotweed can form a fully
grown plant, which means that it’s incredibly difficult to properly remove.
Disturbing the plant can lead to more knotweed growing if
Fragments are spread. This plant is so metal that it can penetrate walls and
Even road surfaces. It quickly dominates the ecosystems to which it is introduced,
Resulting in the death and displacement of native species. The UK government estimated it would cost £1.56 billion to control Japanese Knotweed!
Forms dense mats on the surface of the water, preventing sunlight from
reaching aquatic plants. This causes a drop in oxygen levels which can
lead to the death of fish in the water. As a result, the ecosystem can
begin to collapse. Floating Pennywort can also prevent water from
draining properly, leading to flooding and other problems.
Floating Pennywort can grow by 20cm per day!
Invasive species have already caused massive damage to river habitants and wildlife across the country and it’s important that we deal with them before its’ too late.
So, what can we do to help stop the spread?
One of the ways we can help is by ensuring we help stop the spread of invasive species from waterways to waterways by cleaning our equipment and clothing.
Check, Clean & Dry
- Check your equipment and clothing for live organisms, plant fragments etc. particularly in areas that are damp or hard to inspect.
- Clean & wash all equipment, footwear, and clothing thoroughly. If you do come across any organisms, leave them at the water body where you found them.
- Dry all equipment and clothing. Some species live for up to 36 days in moist conditions. Make sure you don’t transfer water elsewhere.
N.B. current research has found that soaking small items at 45c or above for 5-10mins is an effective method of killing most invasive species.
To help our rivers, next time you are out paddleboarding please clean your boards, paddle, leash and clothing after use.