Investigating removal methods of Japanese Rose (Rosa rugosa) in Crymlyn Burrows SSSI: a key step in coastal restoration
MSc Environmental Biology student Katelin Demery shares her experience undertaking fieldwork and investigating the different methods of invasive non-native plant Japanese Rose (Rosa rugosa) removal from sand dunes in South Wales.
Why study this?
Invasive non-native plant species are a significant concern in conservation management, being the second greatest threat to global biodiversity after habitat loss. Amongst the 2000 non-native species introduced to the UK, Rosa rugosa is a menace to coastal ecosystems as it shades and suppresses native vegetation of high conservation value, decreasing habitat biodiversity.
What did I find?
Two main treatment methods were applied, one being mechanical excavation, followed by deep burial (over 2 m) of Rosa rugosa and the second being chemical treatment using glyphosate herbicide. The dig and burial treatment method was the most efficient, favouring recovery of native and specialist sand dune plant species including Bird's-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), lady's bedstraw (Galium verum), and Kidney vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria). However, to fully prevent resprouting of fragments comprehensive follow up treatments such as hand-pulling and glyphosate spraying must be established for up to at least five years post removal.
How can we stop the spread of Japanese Rose?
The first step in preventing the expansion of Rosa rugosa in coastal systems is to raise awareness of the threats the species present to the local environment. The shrub is listed under schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, making it an offence to plant or otherwise allow this species to grow in the wild. Where the spread cannot be controlled, mitigation in the early stages of development is crucial to prevent rapid spread and establishment of the shrub.
Take home message
I hope that the results from this study can be used to educate and raise awareness of the impacts invasive species have on coastal ecosystems and why their management and removal is crucial for the future of costal restoration.
What did I get out of the experience?
After spending most of my summer at Crymlyn Burrows carrying out various field work for my research project, I have a much deeper appreciation and understanding for the complexity of this habitat and the unique wildlife and plant communities which have adapted to live there. I am grateful to have been involved in this new pioneering approach to dune management and to be a part of one of the first studies at Crymlyn Burrows investigating recent treatment methods of Rosa rugosa. Overall, it has been rewarding to learn more about the importance of sand dunes and I hope that my research helps to inspire and educate others on the impacts invasive species have on our costal dune systems and why managing them is not only crucial for a wealth of rare and specialist wildlife but also for the huge role they play in protecting our beaches, coastlines, and infrastructure.
About the Author
I'm studying MSc Environmental Biology at Swansea University. For my final research project, I had the amazing opportunity of working at Crymlyn Burrows to study different removal methods of the invasive species Japanese Rose (Rosa rugosa). Throughout the project, I spent a lot of time carrying out fieldwork which has given me great experience in the world of conservation ecology research.