THIS week's community column comes from Simon Jones, director of conservation and visitor operations at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.


YOU’VE probably seen them in countless gardens and woodlands – and although they may look pretty, plants like rhododendron ponticum and Himalayan balsam are a threat to our native wildlife.

These plants, along with others such as Japanese knotweed and American skunk cabbage, are all invasive non-native species – and the problem with them, apart from their title being a bit of a mouthful, is that they literally invade, spread and settle, and there’s little room left for native wildlife.

The native plants in places like the National Park are used to co-existing with each other in an ecosystem that’s all about sharing space – that is, until a fast-spreading alien plant turns up, one with no natural controls, and edges others out.

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The National Park Authority has updated its ‘Wild Park’ biodiversity action plan to look more broadly at the key threats that impact on the environment. Instead of supporting individual species, the plan’s approach has been refocused to tackle the wider problems that impact on them, including tackling invasive non-native species.

We’re working in partnership with landowners, communities and relevant organisations to identify where these pesky plants have taken root and encouraging them to take measures to control them. We also want to raise awareness that in April it became an offence for landowners to keep American skunk cabbage, giant hogweed or Himalayan balsam on their land.

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Over the past few months our staff and volunteers took part in American skunk cabbage spraying in Balloch Park, helped remove giant hogweed at Buchanan Castle Golf Club, and our Board members also got stuck in and removed rhododendron in Callander.

If you would like to know more about invasive non-native plant species, join us at the Three Villages Hall in Arrochar on Monday, September 2 from 9.30am-4pm. For more information about invasive non-native plants visit