Posts Tagged ‘conservation’

What Gunnera, Where?

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If you wFront Page-page-001ere out and about around Harris during the last few months it is possible you came across groups or individuals working to dig up or treat gunnera plants.  Local volunteers, Sir E Scott pupils, the John Muir Trust and Glasgow University Students all mucked-in and helped NHT staff and contractors to treat the majority of the outlying populations of gunnera.  This effort hopefully helped to limit further dispersal and whilst we were at it, field trials were set up to test a range of treatment techniques.

During the Winter months the gunnera will die back and remain dormant awaiting the Spring, but we will be using this time to plan for next year’s campaign and could do with the help of locals to establish exactly where to go and look for plants.  North Harris Trust has been mapping the locations of gunnera and other non-native invasive plants.   The areas covered can be seen here.  At the moment our mapping coverage is limited to North Harris, but the project covers the whole of the island and we aim to add South Harris maps as soon as possible.

Use the links below to check out the known distribution of gunnera in your area:

Amhuinnsuidhe, Ardhasaig, Kyles Scalpay, Lacasdale, Central Tarbert, West Tarbert,  East TarbertScaladale, Scalpay South, Scalpay North, Reinigeadal.

Note, at this stage the markers on these maps do not necessarily represent individual plants.  They are just highlighting areas we need to visit.  If you feel there are gaps and we may be missing plants, then please let us know.  Email  Ordnance Survey grid references, or mark the locations on the map and forward to us.  It is crucial for success that all the plants are treated within each population.  As this project progresses it will become harder and harder to find the remaining plants and the more ‘local eyes’ we have the better.

Whilst dealing with gunnera it makes sense to work on the other non-native invasive plants at the same time.  So please also report any un-mapped sightings of piri-piri burr, himalayan balsam and himalayan knotweed.

Anyone interested in the Harris Gunnera project can now download a copy of this year’s report.

Harris Gunnera Control Pilot Project 2015

If you would like to get involved or even if you’d just like to be kept informed of progress, forward your email address to us and you’ll be added to the mailing list.

Thankyou to all those who have already given their time to this project and to Scottish Natural Heritage and the Harris Community Councils for funding support.

Enquiries to: Gordon Cumming, Land Manager



Publicity for Gunnera Control

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A few weeks ago we placed a small article in De Tha Dol regarding the Trust’s efforts at controlling Gunnera (giant rhubarb) on the estate. This week, the Stornoway Gazette reprinted the article, and immediately afterwards, STV was calling the office looking to make a story from it.

The Stornoway Gazette article can be seen here, and the STV article here.

The original De Tha Dol article was as follows:

Stopping the spread of Gunnera in North Harris

This year the North Harris Trust are continuing their programme of controlling Gunnera (Giant Rhubarb) on North Harris, and have been focussing efforts at Ardhasaig and Tarbert.

The plant can grow to a height of 2m and will out-compete many native plants with its large leaves. It can also cause problems by blocking drainage ditches and access tracks.  Gunnera thrives in our mild, wet climate and has caused huge problems in Western Ireland where the climate and landscape is similar to that found in Harris.

The large seed heads can release thousands of seeds that are spread by birds, wind, water and traffic.  At this time of year the seed heads are just becoming ripe.  If you have any Gunnera on your garden or croft, you can help stop the plant spreading any further by cutting off the seed heads, bagging them and disposing of them in the Garden Waste skip at Urgha recycling depot.

The Trust is focussing their efforts on larger problem areas, but doesn’t currently have the resources to visit individual households. We hope you will help us stop the spread of this alien species in Harris. If you need any further advice, or are interested in lending a hand to tackle larger stands of Gunnera, please contact Matt, the North Harris Ranger, on 01859 502222 or email

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Home Energy Packs – energy conservation

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Helping conserve electricity in Harris

This week saw a concerted effort to deliver the last of the Home Energy Packs to households in North Harris. The main part of the Community Carbon Challenge project was to install insulation. As the project comes to a close, we have installed nearly 100 loft insulations and cavity wall insulations -all at no cost to the households. The good news is that people are starting to comment on the difference it has made. People are coming down in the morning to a warmer house – heat is being retained over night.

The Home Energy Packs have been delivered by a team of Directors of the Trust. We started off going from door-to-door in the more remote villages, and have slowly worked our way in towards Tarbert. Last week I took advantage of the sunshine and delivered 50 packs in Carragreich and East Tarbert myself. No easy task, when few of the houses are numbered or named. The next edition of DeThaDol?, the community news letter has an item on the packs. This will ask for anyone we’ve missed out to come forward. Hopefully then, we’ll have covered the majority of the estate.

 Arguably the most important item in the pack is the Energy Monitor. This, once set up, gives you an instantaneous read-out of the electricity being consumed and its cost. I installed one for someone who had had a few problems herself. Immediately it connected, it read over 3kW of electricity being used- the lady of the house had forgotten to turn off the immersion heater! This was a quick lesson on what to look out for.

Also in the pack is a Powerdowner – this neat device automatically turns off the monitor,modem,printer etc, when you close down your computer. There’s also another version that does the same thing on the TV for the DVD and Sky box. Some energy efficient bulbs are included in the pack, and some light reading on Energy Efficiency… all aiming to reduce North Harris’ carbon footprint, and to reduce Fuel Poverty.

Thanks must also go to the project sponsors: Climate Challenge Fund, CnES, Scottish Hydro and E-on and our partners TEAS:The Energy Advisory Service