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Conservation group shares update after removing nearly 28 tons of invasive species: 'A fantastic milestone'

"It's wonderful to see the biodiversity increasing as the habitat recovers."

"It’s wonderful to see the biodiversity increasing as the habitat recovers."

Photo Credit: GCV

An enormous effort by a conservation group resulted in a huge victory for Guernsey.

The Guernsey Conservation Volunteers have removed more than 27.5 tons of invasive sour fig from the Rocquaine coast since 2023, the BBC reported. Guernsey is the second-largest of the Channel Islands, located 27 miles off the coast of France.

Provided there is adequate funding for the work, the Rocquaine coastal area could be clear of sour fig by year's end, according to the BBC. The project is seven decades in the making — dating to the introduction of the invasive species in the 1950s. GCV previously removed the plant from the island's Fort Pezeries.

"Wherever sour fig is removed, it allows native plants to regrow from the existing seeds already in the ground," GCV operations director Angela Salmon said, per the Bailiwick Express. "A variety of native coastal plants will grow and provide food and shelter for insects and small mammals. It's wonderful to see the biodiversity increasing as the habitat recovers."

Salmon described the removal of so much of the succulent as "a fantastic milestone."

Sour fig is also known as ice plant or sea fig. The creeping perennial herb grows in dense mats and, like other invasive species, outcompetes native flora for resources.

"It spreads easily and new patches can form from a very small piece of broken stem," per the Alderney Wildlife Trust. "Broken pieces can be moved by rabbits, birds and the wind. Many people, both locals and tourists, also like the appearance of the plant, and cuttings are often taken for gardens. This is likely to contribute to its spread. It is now present throughout the island, in all coastal areas, and poses a major threat to native flora and contributes to coastal erosion."

The Trust also noted sour fig cannot be controlled by grazing and increases nitrogen and carbon in soil, reducing its pH, which makes it difficult for native species to return even after it has been removed. The plant also prevents natural changes and movement in sand dunes, decreasing species diversity.

Gardeners should not plant invasive species such as sour fig to avoid contributing to their spread. Turning to native species instead can help minimize the effects of extreme weather events, including floods and droughts. They can also help lower your water bill and cut maintenance costs associated with traditional grass lawns.

Additionally, rewilding supports pollinators, which protect our food supply and nurture biodiversity.

As these volunteers showed, each small step can add up.

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