A BRADFORD conservation group is appealing for volunteers to help destroy an invasive plant growing on the banks of the district's becks and rivers.

The Friends of Bradford's Becks (FOBB) members are trying to map local outbreaks of Japanese Knotweed in an effort to control the growth of the non-native species.

Later this summer, in August and September, the group plans to use trained volunteers to destroy the plants by injecting weedkiller directly in the stems of any Knotweed found.

FOBB chairman Barney Lerner said because the weed can regrow from tiny pieces carried by streams and rivers it is a particularly hazardous problem in and around water.

"The real difficulty is that it spreads so easily," he said. "We have found large patches in places, and there is the danger it could end up in the River Aire.

"People tend to only look after the problem on their own land, but we will be mapping the whole of the watercourse from top to bottom."

"We hope to knock it back by around 80 or 90 per cent in the first year to try and ensure it doesn't re-grow."

Japanese knotweed was introduced into Britain in the 19th century as an ornamental plant, but over time it has become widespread in a range of habitats, including roadsides, riverbanks and derelict buildings.

The large and powerful species does not appear to be affected by any diseases and smothers all other plant growth around it.

In extreme cases it can push up through tarmac and concrete and destroy paths and even buildings.

Soil containing Knotweed roots has to be treated as special waste, and it is high on the Environment Agency's hitlist of invasive non-native species.

Don Vine, conservation officer for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, which is supporting the project, said: "Engaging with local people is vital in our work to control invasive species.

"This project will not only begin to actively deal with the problem of Japanese Knotweed on Bradford Beck, but also show how we can deal with invasives on a local level."

The group will initially map all the places where Knotweed grows near any of the becks in Bradford, having already found it along the Beck in Shipley and in Red Beck, which runs through Heaton Woods.

Chellow Dene and Northcliff Dike remain clear at the moment, with the group surveying Middle Beck, Pitty Beck, Pinch Beck, and Bull Greave Beck next.

FOBB is holding an information and training day for anyone interested in getting involved in the project which takes place at the South Square Community Room in Thornton on Sunday from 10am.

For more information, visit bradford-beck.org.