GCV and AWT tackle sour fig at Saye beach

TWO bailiwick conservation charities joined forces to tackle Alderney’s sour fig problem at the weekend.

Head of outreach at Alderney Wildlife Trust, Rowie Burcham holding a sour fig. (31501492)
Head of outreach at Alderney Wildlife Trust, Rowie Burcham holding a sour fig. (31501492)

Guernsey Conservation Volunteers and Alderney Wildlife Trust had more than 30 volunteers at Saye Bay to remove the invasive plant from the sand dunes.

‘Sour fig is threatening Alderney’s beautiful coastline as it rapidly grows on our dunes and coastal grassland,’ said AWT conservation officer Ellen Smith.

The sour fig at Saye poses a threat to the sand mounds, as due to its invasive nature it takes over by growing through the grass already there.

This de-stabilises the mound and can lead to them collapsing, a danger to Alderney’s coastline as the mounds act as a flood defence to the surrounding area. Generally the plant is hazardous to the eco-system as it out-competes native vegetation and flowers, replacing and wiping them out.

The GCV has great experience with the plant, which also affects Guernsey’s coastline habitat. The charity has helped clear sour fig from areas such as Fort Le Marchant and Les Tielles.

‘Biodiversity loss is a huge problem and removing the fig allows us to fight against it,’ said GCV operations director Angela Salmon.

Issues around the fig have increased over the last 20 years and especially recently due to the milder winters – something that AWT is fighting against by mapping the areas of the island most affected, before taking action.

Over the weekend the team managed to fill two skip loads with the plant before being able to take part in historical walks, dine at local restaurants and enjoy the hospitality at Alderney’s hotels.

‘We were really able to enjoy what the island has to offer,’ said Miss Salmon.

The two groups joined up last year to work on the same issue to positive reactions and plans for future collaborations have already been made.

‘It’s nice to work with both islands to tackle this issue we both have,’ said Miss Smith.

Efforts in Guernsey have focused on eradicating the plant from Fort Le Marchant, where more than 30 tonnes has been picked.

This Saturday GCV will undergo its last session at the Fort to finalise the large project from 10am.

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