My name is Neil Green and I am the Avon Invasive Weed Forum (AIWF) Project Officer. I work mainly on the rivers and watercourses within Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset.
What is your background?
My background includes life guarding in Cumbria, teaching English in Madrid, exporting oil for BP lubricants, building balconies in Bondi Beach and running my own landscape gardening business in sunny Swindon! In more recent years I have been a Coastal Ranger for the National Trust in North Cornwall and worked on the Source to Sea Invasive species project for Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.
What is the Avon Invasive Weed Forum, what projects are you working on?
The AIWF is an independent group of relevant stakeholders such as Bristol City Council, Bristol Zoo Gardens, The Environment Agency and South Gloucestershire Council, currently funded by Defra. The aim is to survey as much of the Avon catchment as possible for Non-Native Invasive Weeds (NNIW), so far we have over 70 kilometres of riparian habitat logged. Once the surveys are mapped we then get the NNIW into the appropriate management to control and reduce the abundance of these alien nasties.
How are you helping to fight invasive species in the UK?
We are helping by engaging with local conservation and community groups to take ownership of their local areas and the invasive species that they may have. In the Spring and Summer we carry out many practical Himalayan balsam weed pulls – we managed 22 ‘BIG PULL’ events last summer. Himalayan balsam has a very shallow root system and is easy and very enjoyable to yank out of the ground. Removing the plants stop them from seeding, which is of paramount importance to help fight the invasion!
How can people get involved?
You can get involved by volunteering to help manage the Himalayan Balsam as part of our ‘BIG PULL’ campaign or help survey the watercourses and open water in the Avon Catchment. You can do this by contacting your local conservation groups, community groups or myself at the Avon Invasive Weeds Forum, we welcome individuals, groups and corporate social responsibility requests.
If you are not in the Avon area you can take a look at the GB NNSS website and find an Invasive Species Project closer to home.
Learn more about invasive species in the UK by visiting our UK invasive species page.