An invasive aquatic plant has been eradicated from the River Waveney thanks to a concerted campaign by environmental bodies.
Floating pennywort, which can grow by up to 20cm a day, forms a mat which smothers water and blocks out sunlight and oxygen, potentially damaging flood defences and drainage systems, as well as blocking the passage of boats. The ‘alien’ species was first recorded on the Waveney in 2007 and spread to cover an 11km stretch of the river.
Its removal is particularly problematic as the plant can regenerate from tiny stem fragments which are easily transported downstream, however eradication was achieved this year through a combination of hand pulling and herbicide spraying over the course of six years.
The project was carried out by the Norfolk Non-Native Species Initiative, the Broads Authority and the Environment Agency, with funding from the Norfolk County Council-led RINSE (Reducing the Impacts of Non-Native Species in Europe).
It is now being held up as a exemplar in the control of invasive aquatic plants.