Wetland centre showcases invasive water plants

An exhibit which helps gardeners and pond owners to avoid the spread of damaging invasive non-native plants has been opened at London Wetland Centre by environment minister Richard Benyon.

Invasive non-native plants and animals cost the British economy at least £1.7bn each year.

With the help of Defra funding, WWT has made lifelike models of the six worst invasive water plants which are prone to escape in Britain and pointedly housed them in cages to show they need to be contained in order to protect British wetlands.

Five of the six plants will be banned from being sold in England and Wales from next April. The new exhibit will support that ban, says orgnanisers, by showing visitors to the London Wetland Centre why the plants are such a problem, and how they too can help to protect Britain’s wetlands.

Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust chief executive Martin Spray CBE said: "Invasive plants are a major threat to wetlands, which are home to more native wildlife and plant species in Britain than any other habitat.

"WWT Wetland Centres are a great place to have fun finding out how beautiful wetlands are, how they affect our lives, and how everyday things we do can make a difference.

"Just composting one plant carefully, or checking one piece of water equipment is cleaned properly, could prevent native plants and wildlife dying and thousands of pounds being spent on eradication."

The five non-native invasive plants which will be banned from sale in England and Wales in April 2014 are:

  •  water primrose Ludwigia grandiflora, Ludwigia peploides and Ludwigia uruguayensis,
  •  parrot’s feather Myriophyllum aquaticum,
  •  water fern Azolla filiculoides,
  •  floating pennywort Hydrocotyle ranunculoides,
  •  New Zealand pygmy weed Crassula helmsii.

The sixth plant on display is Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera), which is not for sale in England and Wales.

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