The Times and Star report: A PARTICULARLY invasive form of weed which is threatening plants and wildlife in the Lake District is finally getting wider attention.
There is a danger that New Zealand pigmyweed – described by the National Trust as “the scourge of Derwentwater” – could spread to other, none-infested lakes.
Jessie Binns, who works for the National Trust as a visitor experience manager (North Lakes patch), said: “That’s what we are particularly worried about – if it got into lakes like Crummock it could start to threaten our native wildlife species.”
She added that the weed, first detected in Derwentwater in 1996, out-competed other native species, and that by 2003 the lake immediately south of Keswick had lost at least nine native species of plant.
Although it is a long-standing problem, Ms Binns said that “suddenly it seems to have caught people’s imaginations,” perhaps due to the popularity of wild swimming.
Ms Binns described the pigmyweed that could be found in Derwentwater as big “green sausages,”some of which were tens of metres long, that could be found at Derwentwater.
As the Trust does not know of any way to get rid of the weed once it infests a lake, it is particularly vital that people take steps to ensure they do not inadvertently cause it to spread. Ms Binns said that people who enter a lake could “check, clean and dry” as a precaution. Firstly, people should check anything they take into the water (such as a wetsuit) to make sure there is no pigmyweed on it. Afterwards, clean anything that has been taken into the water (a bucket or trug might be convenient for this purpose), making sure that the dirty water is not poured away down the sink or bath as the pigmyweed can find its way into bodies of water via this route. Finally, it is important to make sure any kit is dry so that pigmyweed cannot survive.