Is the Ring of Gullion under threat of an alien invasion? The Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership, part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is working with local volunteers to carry out mapping surveys across the region; looking for alien invasive species. But these aliens aren’t little green men but big green plants! These species are causing problems throughout Northern Ireland in terms of local biodiversity but they can also impact the economy by affecting activities such as agriculture and fishing. It is therefore important to find out where these species are becoming established in order to properly control them, before they start causing any major problems here.
Some of the most common species are Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed, Himalayan Balsam and the Grey Squirrel. Giant Hogweed is particularly dangerous as the sap causes very painful light sensitive burns and can cause blindness if it gets near the eyes. Over recent years it has become more common in the Newry area, appearing alongside roads and footpaths. Please familiarise yourself and your children with the Giant Hogweed so that you can identify it when out exploring over the summer and avoid touching it. Many of these invasive species, for example Rhododendron, are commonly found in peoples’ gardens and can be spread into the wild through the improper disposal of garden waste.
As part of this project the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership Scheme would like to encourage people to learn more about these species and to look out for them when they are out and about in the area. Any sightings can be reported online on both the CEDaR and Invasive Species Ireland websites. More information about invasive non-native species is available on our website; including what to look out for, how to properly identify them and links to the websites mentioned above.