“Collectively invasive plant species cost the UK economy some £2billion per year and are the second largest threat to biodiversity after climate change,” explains project manager and wildlife photographer Dave Kilbey. “The PlantTracker project came about as the Environment Agency wanted an efficient method of locating and mapping priority invasive plant species within the UK. They approached the Nature Locator team at the University of Bristol to design a smartphone app that would enable members of the public to submit geo-located, photographic records of the invasive plant species they encounter. The result was the PlantTracker app, which is now collecting data on 14 different, mainly riparian and aquatic, invasive plant species.”
The project involves key partners including the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (BRC) and the Non Native Species Secretariat in order to ensure that the data collected is available to those that really need it.
“September should be a key month for recording many of these species as they'll be at their most obvious - so we're really hoping to alert as many people as possible to it in order to make a start obtaining a clearer picture of their distributions,” adds Dave. “The app has already begun to reveal interesting records and has alerted key organisations to the previously unknown presence of invasive, non-native species in their areas of responsibility. The only ingredient required is that lots of people use it and record invasive plants!”
Here are some of the plants to look out for (the app includes more information and ID tips):
Photos: Dave Kilbey