TEES INNS OUT
Who We Are?
Tees Rivers Trust is a charitable organisation committed to improving and conserving the River Tees and its tributaries. We take a whole catchment approach to river management, from Cross Fell to the North Sea. Our key areas of work are farm advice, invasive non-native species control, research, education, and practical habitat improvements. We are the host organisation for the Tees Catchment Partnership. This comprises partners including Local Authorities, Government Agencies, Environmental NGOs, and individual specialists. The Partnership aims to ensure catchment matters, planning and projects have a strategic and influential fit with other landscape and urban planning objectives to realise mutual benefits and avoid resource duplication. The trust is supported by a group of core trained volunteers, as well as support from regular corporate volunteers from local businesses.
This project focuses on tackling three big invasive plant species, causing three big issues to our environment with the aim of making the Tees catchment accessible, safe, and biodiverse.
Introducing the Big 3 Invasive Species….
- Giant hogweed: a tall, cow-parsley-like plant with thick bristly stems often purple-blotched that produces toxic sap. Contact with this plant causes nasty blisters and burns to the skin.
- Japanese knotweed: a perennial weed, producing tall canes, zig-zag stems, shield shaped leaves and small white flowers. This plant costs the economy millions each year to remove and causes structural damage to buildings.
- Himalayan balsam: a large annual plant with pink trumpet shaped flowers, explosive seed pods that can spread 7m and a sweet-smelling fragrance. This plant overtakes large areas of land, destabilising riverbanks when it dies back, making them more susceptible to the impact of climate change.
Causing the 3 Big Issues…
- Biodiversity Loss: these invasive species form monocultures, reducing biodiversity by densely covering areas of ground and outcompeting native species and negatively impacting soil quality, causing declines in invertebrate species and the animals that feed on them, such as birds and hedgehogs.
- Harming Safe Spaces: Rivers should be a safe space to explore nature and relax, but when huge plants like giant hogweed can cause blistering burns, it doesn’t make for a nice place to walk. Along with the erosion these plants cause, they make riverbanks unstable making it more likely for people to fall in.
- Flooding: Invasive species die back in the winter, often leaving the ground bare to erosion. The effects of soil erosion go beyond the loss of fertile land. It has led to increased pollution and sedimentation in streams and rivers, clogging these waterways and causing declines in fish and other species. And degraded lands are also often less able to hold onto water, which can worsen flooding.
- Invasive Species Management: we have 3 main methods of invasive species management.
- Biological control: this is a method of controlling invasive species in a way that doesn’t negatively impact native species. This up-and-coming technology involves a rust fungus for controlling Himalayan balsam and a psyllid for controlling Japanese knotweed. The use of biological control is still very new, but thanks to our partnership with the Centre for Bioscience and Agriculture International (CABI), we are many steps closer to controlling these invasive species.
- Pesticide: a beneficial method to remove invasive species where biological control is not viable such as removal of giant hogweed.
- Manual: As biocontrol is still very new, we have found that some sites across the Tees are not susceptible to the strain of the rust fungus on Himalayan balsam and therefore may need manually pulling out.
Education: Many people do not know what invasive species are and are unaware of the issues they cause and the damage they do to our environment and recreational spaces. We think it’s important to educate as many people as we can about invasive species, including how to identify them, avoid and report them and reduce the risk of them spreading (see here about Check, Clean, Dry)
Increasing Biodiversity: Re-introduction of native plants helps to prevent the re-establishment of invasive species and creates vegetation cover. This involves planting native plants and trees along our riverbanks to increase biodiversity and reduce the impact of erosion.
As a charity, we rely on money from funders and donators to carry out our work. Funding this project will enable us to increase biodiversity, protect natural spaces and reduce the impacts of climate change such as flooding along the River Tees and its tributaries, including the Skerne, Leven, and Greta.
We will continue to work with CABI on our biocontrol work along the river with the goal of controlling invasive non-native species. We will work involve local communities in these projects, hosting balsam bashing events, native species plug and bulb planting events and training events, enabling volunteers to learn how to safely control invasive species, and how to identify and record them.
Money raised will be used to pay for biocontrol sites, equipment, and training for volunteers to carry out more conservation work throughout the catchment.
Why Support Us
By supporting us, you’re not just supporting your local river… you are also supporting the community by providing safer natural spaces, boosting biodiversity, and benefiting invertebrates, and helping to reduce the impact of climate change.
We need to act now, before invasive species take over. Your support will help to create a sustainable economic future for the Tees.
Key Spending Objectives
- Monitoring and mapping invasive species throughout the Tees catchment
- Removal and control of Himalayan balsam, Japanese knotweed, and giant hogweed using biocontrol and pesticide management methods.
- Planting native species along riverbanks to increase biodiversity and lessen the impact of erosion on riverbanks.