PlantTracker App Launched to Tackle Spread of Invasive Plants in Yorkshire
Sep 02 2012
A new app has been developed by the Environment Agency (UK) called PlantTracker. The aim of this app is to help combat the spread of problematic, non-native plant species.
PlantTracker will also help gain an insight into the abundance of non-native species across Yorkshire (where the app is initially being launched) and will enable users with the ability to map and submit the location of sightings on their smart phone.
The app has been developed by the Environment Agency, the University of Bristol’s Nature Locator team, and the National Environment Research Council’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. It will help tackle problem plants in Yorkshire such as floating pennywort, Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and Himalayan balsam.
An invasive non-native species (INNS) is any non-native plant that has the ability to spread, causing damage to the environment. Despite having exotic sounding names such as Creeping Water-primrose, Parrot's Feather and American Skunk-cabbage, non-native plants can cause a lot of damage.
INNS can have a negative effect on water quality as they grow rapidly, smothering waterways, affecting aquatic life and out-competing native species. They can also impede drainage and cause flooding. INNS cost the British economy a minimum of £1.7 billion per annum and are spreading quickly across the UK.
PlantTracker will help tackle this problem by accurately determining where these plants are. The app contains lots of clear images of both the invasive species and any similar species to help users feel confident with their identification.
Amanda Best from the Environment Agency said: “We’d love everyone to use PlantTracker to track down these problem plants. Non-native species can crowd out and kill off native wildlife and September is their peak growing season, so now is the ideal time to spot them. We’ll use the information people submit to determine the extent of the problem, find out where the worst cases are and provide evidence for local action groups to develop project funding bids to tackle INNS in their communities.”
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