A DUMBARTON community group is aiming to make the area more friendly towards native species.

Friends of Havoc Meadows (FOHM), which was formed in 2019, is made up of 37 members who have been working to make the site in Dalreoch a safe space for a diverse range of species.

The group has recently ramped up their battle to remove the Himalayan Balsam, an invasive non-native plant species.

The plant was first imported by the Victorians in 1839 for its sweet-smelling flowers.

It is harmless to humans, but the group says it has taken over river banks, woodlands and bare ground throughout mainland Britain, pushing native species nearer to extinction.

And FOHM spokesperson Zoe Weir opened up on the importance of dealing with the plant.

"We've made good progress in reducing this plant in some areas, but we need to push forward if we are to declare the site Balsam-free, and we'd love people to come along and give a hand," she said.

"The plant pulls up easily and doesn't sting, so it's quite relaxing and fun to do.

"We've got so many species here worth protecting, and we've already discovered another this year that is new to West Dunbartonshire - the Cinnamon Bug.

"It's a harmless and very handsome insect that is native to Britain and moving northward due to warmer average temperatures."

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Zoe, who has been involved with nature conservation for over 40 years, also detailed the other work the group does as well as highlighted the affection Dumbarton residents have for the Havoc site.

"The high biodiversity at Havoc is partly down to it being a mosaic of different habitats, with damp grassland next to a dryer area where the old red blaize athletics track was – plus a woodland corridor and the Clyde estuary shore," she continued.

"These habitats continue mostly uninterrupted along the shore towards Milton and onward to the reserve at The Saltings, allowing wildlife to move when they need to.

"Local people feel a very strong cultural affection for Havoc as the background to their childhoods, having spent many a long summer’s day down the shore with their families.

"That’s why the Local Area Nature Reserve Status is so vital – it means that kids in West Dumbarton will still be able to access these green spaces their grandparents loved."

The group's next event is a free foraging walk at Havoc on July 18, ran by Jean Senior of Beech Tree Clinic - see Friends of Havoc Meadows' Facebook page for booking details, or email havocmeadow@gmail.com.