Blokes on Ropes help Aberdeenshire Council tackle coastal Japanese knotweed issue

Aberdeenshire Council has employed specialist resources to control an unwanted plant species which is growing on coastal cliffs.

Japanese knotweed is a non-native and vigorously-growing plant which can form dense stands which smother the native vegetation. 

It has been found to be growing in coastal gorges and on cliffs around Muchalls and Newtonhill, areas which form part of Local Nature Conservation Sites and identified by Aberdeenshire Council as being of regional importance for biodiversity. 

In a bid to tackle the problem, the council recently employed the services of Scottish company Blokes on Ropes which has been working with the North East Non-Native Invasive Species (NENNIS) Project.

The NENNIS Project, funded by LEADER, is a collaboration of local authorities, Scottish Natural Heritage, local communities and interest groups.  

Its aim is to provide training and access to materials to enable community groups to undertake this important work and to encourage landowners to work together to control invasive species. 

For several years, members of the local community have been treating and controlling Japanese knotweed along the Elsick Burn at Newtonhill, but where the burn enters a steep sided gorge specialist equipment was required to access and treat the knotweed. 

At Muchalls, Japanese knotweed has established at the top of steep coastal cliffs and a landslide several years ago led to the spread of this plant onto the foreshore.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Biodiversity Champions for Invasive Species - Councillor Anne Stirling and Councillor Anouk Kloppert - have welcomed the initiative.

Cllr Stirling said: “Controlling Japanese knotweed in these locations is vitally important to prevent the further spread of this invasive plant into sensitive coastal habitats. 
“We are pleased to be working with a specialist company in these challenging environments where ropes have been required to safely access and treat these alien plants.”

Cllr Kloppert added: “The control of invasive non-native plants within our Local Nature Conservation Sites is hugely important to prevent further spread and the smothering and eventual loss of the native vegetation.”