The introduction of invasive species can have serious impacts on native ecosystems. Australian swamp stonecrop (Crassula helmsii) is an invasive aquatic plant capable of dominating water bodies such as ditches, ponds, and canals. It is spreading throughout the UK and Europe, where it forms dense vegetative mats that out-compete native flora and reduce oxygen levels. At present, there is no effective method of control for this species.
My project focuses upon the identification of effective control methods for C. helmsii on the Pevensey Levels wetland, East Sussex, UK. The Levels represent one of the largest wetland landscapes in South East England and are of global nature conservation significance. However, the site is infested with C. helmsii to the extent that it could lose its conservation designations if this species is not controlled. My research involves the application of novel techniques including small-Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) and the release of a biological control agent. The effects of C. helmsii on native plant species will also be investigated. The findings of this project will inform land managers and conservation organisations of the most effective control methods and will be used to produce an eradication plan for C. helmsii on the Pevensey Levels.
This research involves working alongside the Environment Agency, who fund the project, as well as other stakeholder conservation organisations such as Natural England and the Sussex Wildlife Trust. The Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) have developed the biological control agent and will facilitate its release on the Pevensey Levels in 2018.
Funder: The Environment Agency