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Medway Valley Countryside Partnership 

Invasive Non Native Species Newsletter - Spring 2020 

Giant Hogweed Control - Spring 2020 Update 

Due to the public health concerns of leaving Giant Hogweed growing along footpaths and other accessible places and since we are able to carry out the needed control treatments whilst lone working....despite the current Covid 19 health crisis, we were given the go ahead to continue our work on Giant Hogweed. Since little other work has been taking place, the team have been able to dedicate a lot of time to this task and we've had a great start to our INNS control season.

However because of the mild winter the plants seem to be that much more established than in previous years and we've had the extra logistical hurdle of lone working. Normally stretches of towpath can be covered in one direction and a support vehicle can be strategically placed, but this year we have had to double back. 

Still, via walking footpaths in this way and visiting individual locations on foot, we have been able to treat over 11,000 Giant Hogweed plants this spring so far.  

We need to cover the river by boat soon and there is a lot of work on other species to do but....it's a great start to the Giant Hogweed control season on the Medway. 

Floating Pennywort Plan 

Floating pennywort on the Medway © Ian Butler 2019 
 
Despite a difficult year with this species in 2019, MVCP are planning to continue with a manual control method for Floating Pennywort in 2020.  So far the Covid 19 pandemic has meant that we've not been able to get out on the water and around the marinas but when we can, we plan to tackle the mats with trained volunteers and use canoes to get up close and personal with these plants. 

With training and guidance, we hope canoeists can scoop out any smaller mats and fragments before they take hold but to ensure their safety and to ensure important biosecurity methods are followed, we've been working with
British Canoeing and Cam Valley Forum to draft a 'How To Guide' for manual removal of Floating pennywort. 
Each river system and volunteer and conservation group is different, so we've written the guide with our own Medway volunteers and tasks in mind, but the guide, which comes off the back of our
Rapid Life project work, will be made available to any other group wanting to carry out similar tasks. 

Watch this space for the guide and upcoming volunteer task days as and when we come out the other side of social distancing. 

MVCP on the Asian Hornet Action Team 

Asian Hornet © Jean Haxaire
Vespa velutina, the yellow legged hornet, commonly known as the Asian hornet, is native to Asia but was confirmed for the first time in South West France in 2004, thought to have been imported in a consignment of pottery. It quickly established and spread to many regions of France.
The hornet preys on honeybees and disrupts the ecological role which it provides and damages commercial beekeeping activities. Needing animal protein for its brood, it's also a voracious predator of other insects too and so it has the potential to alter the biodiversity in regions where it is prevalent.  It can be a health risk to those who have allergies to hornet or wasp stings (
Beebase 2020).

Asian Hornets were first recorded in the UK in 2016 with periodic reports of individuals and nests in subsequent years.
The Asian hornet is smaller than our native European hornet, with adult workers measuring from 25mm in length and queens measuring 30mm. It's abdomen is mostly black except for it's fourth abdominal segment which is a yellow band located towards the rear. It has characteristically yellow lower legs which accounts for why it is often called the yellow legged hornet and it's face is orange with two brownish red compound eyes  (Beebase 2020).

Whilst it is good that many people are now aware of this potential non-native species in the UK, many European Hornets have unfortunately been getting persecuted due to mistaken identity. 
For this reason, and to assist with the awareness raising and reporting of any Asian hornets as and when they arrive in the UK, MVCP have joined the
Asian Hornet Action Team.  

If you think you have seen an Asian hornet, in the first instance you should report it through the free Asian hornet watch app available for
Android and Iphone. This is a useful tool in comparing insects with similar features, with lots of information on many different species that look similar to the Asian hornet; hoverflies, wasps etc. Other methods of reporting Asian hornets include using the NNSS online notification form. Finally, you can send any suspect sightings to the Non Native Species email address alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk. Where possible, a photo, the location of the sighting and a description of the insect seen should be included  (Beebase 2020).

You can also find your local Asian Hornet Action Team contact via the British Beekeeping Association Website and the
Asian Hornet Action Team Map.  For the Maidstone and Mid Kent area you'll now see MVCP listed as your local contact for any potential sightings and questions about identification.  

MVCP's Rapid Life Biocontrol Conference 

Working with CABI as part of our Rapid Life Biocontrol work, in February 2020, MVCP hosted and delivered an Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) and Biocontrol conference.  Held at the Animal Management Lecture Theatre at Hadlow College, we had an amazing line up of guest speakers including CABI, University of Greenwich, Kent Wildlife Trust, British Beekeeping and Hadlow College plus MVCP also talked about INNS in general and our Medway Catchment work.  We were really pleased with the day, which had over 100 people in attendance.   Many thanks to the project funders and to all those who assisted with the day.  
Top: Corin from CABI (Biocontrol presentation).  Bottom Left:  Sam from British Beekeeping Association (Asian Hornet presentation).  Bottom right:  Andrea from MVCP (INNS introduction presentation) 

MVCP's Our Riverbank Book - Now Available Online 

MVCPs children's book all about invasive riverbank plants and management, is now available both on the MVCP website and on the Non Native Species Secretariat website as a free downloadable digital version. 
If you prefer a hard copy of this short illustrated book (which includes I.D and info on invasive plants), you can email medwayvalley@kent.gov.uk.  We usually request £3 to cover the costs of printing but the book, along with other resources, was given to schools for free via our previous
National Lottery Heritage Funded Past Plants, Future Flora project.  
© MVCP 2017

Burrow Recorder 

We know that invasive non-native animals such as Mitten Crabs and Signal Crayfish burrow into riverbanks and that this can cause erosion.  More information is needed on the impacts of this however.
Queen Mary University of London have created a smartphone app called the Burrow Recorder and we'd love to assist in this research by encouraging our local volunteers and riparian landowners to capture data via this app.  Via the app it's easy to upload data on animal burrows and the app then captures information on erosion and impact.  Visit
burrow-recorder.coreo.app to get started.  
With thanks the our project funders and supporters;
the Environment Agency, Maidstone Borough Council, Kent County Council West Kent Public Rights of Way, Yalding Parish Council and Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council 
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3 Lock Cottages, Lock Lane, Sandling, Kent, ME14 3AU 

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Medway Valley Countryside Partnership · 3 Lock Cottages, Lock Lane · Sanding · Maidstone, Kent ME14 3AU · United Kingdom

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