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$4 million project to protect Irish and Scottish waterways
Date:2/1/2011

A 2.6 million project to protect the waterways of Ireland and Scotland will be launched today (Tuesday 1 February) at Queen's University Belfast. This critical project aims to control invasive plants, such as the giant hogweed, which are taking over river banks; limiting their use for angling and recreation, destroying ecosystems, and causing health problems for those who come into contact with the aggressive plants.

Invasive species are the second biggest cause of biodiversity loss worldwide. Their economic impact in Europe has been estimated at over 12 billion per year, and they cost around 7.5 million to control each year in river corridors in Britain alone.

These species are plants that have been introduced to a place where they do not naturally occur. They can be bigger, faster growing or more aggressive than native plants, therefore upsetting the balance of the ecosystem. They may also have fewer natural predators to control numbers, meaning that native plants are often unable to compete and the invasive species quickly take over.

The EU funded CIRB project (Controlling Priority Invasive Species and Restoring Native Biodiversity) will control 'invasive species' like the giant hogweed, rhododendron, Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam, in river catchments in border regions of Ireland and Scotland.

The CIRB project will focus on the River Faughan in Co. Derry/Londonderry, the Newry Canal/Clanrye River, and the Rive Dee/River Glyde in Co. Louth, alongside twelve catchments within the Argyll, Ayrshire, Galloway and Tweed areas of Scotland.

CIRB project manager Dr Cathy Maguire from Queen's School of Biological Sciences said: "As well as damaging natural biodiversity, invasive species can cause serious problems for local communities. They take over river banks, preventing their use for angling and recreation. The giant hogweed also contains toxic sap that can cause painful blisters on anyone who comes into cont
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Contact: Anne-Marie Clarke
anne-marie.clarke@qub.ac.uk
44-289-097-5320
Queen's University Belfast
Source:Eurekalert

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