Aberdeenshire Council are on the search for alien life, it has been revealed. Keen astronomers can put away their telescopes, however, as it is foreign plant species the council are targeting.
Giant hogweed, Japanese knotweed, and Himalayan balsam are becoming established in the local environment, much to the detriment to native habitat and financial expense.
Giant hogweed, in particular, is dangerous to humans and animals alike, the sap of the large (3m tall) plant causing photodermatitis or photosensitivity, resulting in the blistering of the skin.
A workshop has previously been hosted by the council for government agencies, river trusts, community councils, landowners and volunteers to look at what work is already being done to control the problem plants.
Local people are now also being asked to lend a hand aainst the invasive non-native species (INNS).
Chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, Councillor Peter Argyle, said: “This is a big problem which affects us all and costs us all money. Aberdeenshire Council and other organisations simply cannot deal with this alone. “
Locals are being asked to: learn to identify INNS; send a record of where these species are to the Local Biological Record Centre; join conservation volunteers who organise work groups to control the plants; join or create environmental groups at a local level, and check their own gardens to prevent these plants spreading.