Scottish/Northern Irish Project seeks providers to help tackle invasive plants

Four contracts worth a combined total of £1.1m have been offered for tender across Scotland for service providers to help tackle invasive non-native plant species in the local waterways.

The three-year EU-funded work forms part of a £2.6m programme led by Queen's University in Belfast that aims to control invasive species such as giant hogweed, rhododendron, Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam across Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The contracts in Scotland are available through the Ayrshire Rivers Trust, Argyll Fisheries Trust, Galloway Fisheries Trust and the Tweed Forum. Queen's University will carry out the work in Northern Ireland with its team of specialists.

The programme, Controlling Priority Invasive Species & Restoring Native Biodiversity (CIRB), is being run in partnership with the Rivers & Fisheries Trusts of Scotland, Inland Fisheries Ireland and the University of Ulster.

CIRB project manager Dr Cathy Maguire, from the university's school of biological sciences, said invasive species caused serious problems for local communities as well as damaging biodiversity.

"They take over river banks, preventing their use for angling and recreation, and the giant hogweed also contains toxic sap that can cause painful blisters on anyone who comes into contact with it."

She added: "By combining the latest scientific research with action on the ground and by engaging with local communities to train people how to identify and control invasive plants, we can prevent further environmental, economic and social damage."

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