top of page

Tees Operation Giant Hogweed

Giant hogweed is an invasive non native species that has spread gradually yet relentlessly through the River Tees catchment area since its introduction in the 1800s.

Tees Operation Giant Hogweed takes a holistic, whole catchment approach to managing a catchment wide issue through a process of intelligence gathering, direct action, education and natural site restoration.


Plants and animals introduced into a place where they do not naturally belong are known as non-native species.


Invasive non-native species are those that may negatively impact:

  • native ecology.

  • the local environment.

  • our economy.

  • human health.


Giant Hogweed is defined as invasive as it:

  • Is native to the Caucasus mountains in south west Russia and Georgia.

  • Has no natural predators and is significantly reducing biodiversity.

  • Is making it difficult and dangerous to access an amenity asset used and enjoyed by local communities, interest groups and visitor groups.

  • Has phototoxic sap that is dangerous and harmful to humans.



Our mission is to restore the natural heritage and biodiversity of rivers within the Tees catchment, and to create a safer environment for local communities, visitors and river users to enjoy.

Our goals are to:

  • Map and remove Giant Hogweed.

  • Reverse the loss of biodiversity by re-introducing native flora.

  • Restore access and re-establish a safer amenity of great local importance.

  • Raise awareness and educate people about Giant Hogweed.

Co-ordinating the actions of Local Action Groups, local authorities and landowners throughout the entire catchment is part of our mission. This will reduce the likelihood of seedbanks being replenished from untreated upstream areas, and is essential for promoting access to the river Tees for people to enjoy.


The problem

Giant Hogweed is present along approximately 96Km of the Tees, and a further 30km of along the lower tributaries.

Our mission

Mapping the distribution of Giant Hogweed is essential to plan removal work and monitor progress. Mapping is conducted by dedicated volunteers, Tees Rivers Trust staff, angling clubs, local authorities and other interest groups. With your help, yearly re-mapping will provide a detailed picture of the extent and locations of Giant Hogweed throughout the catchment, showing the effectiveness of removal work. Please help us to map Giant Hogweed by recording any sightings of the plant HERE.

This project aims to reduce the presence of Giant Hogweed by 80% throughout the Tees catchment using co-ordinated chemical control methods. This will help to naturally re-establish ecosystems that have been negatively impacted by this invasive non-native plant.



The Problem

Giant hogweed out-competes and rapidly replaces most native plants by forming dense stands and creating monocultures most native plants cannot compete with. Its early germination and emergence also allows it to develop populations ahead of native species. It can also grow leaves over 1m wide which shades out native vegetation.

Once the plant dies back in winter, large areas of riverbanks are left exposed, becoming susceptible to erosion from increased water flow during winter months. This destabilises banks, resulting in loss of land and increased silt loading in the river, causing further adverse effects.

Although listed under schedule 9 of Wildlife and the Countryside Act - making it illegal to plant or grow in the wild in the UK - there is no statutory responsibility for private landowners, local authorities or other government agencies to control or remove it from their land.


Our Mission

Once Giant Hogweed has been sufficiently reduced, we will actively re-introduce flora to areas where large monocultures have made natural regeneration unlikely. Working with local natural history societies, wildlife groups and volunteers, these sites will be populated with plants, bulbs and seeds which are sympathetic to riverbanks, meadows and woodland. Once established, the sites will be maintained, monitored and managed, eventually becoming sources of seed for other sites along the rivers.


Below are a few photos of some key identifying features of giant hogweed.


Operation Giant Hogweed is fortunate to receive support and funding from the following organisations:

  • National Lottery players and the National Lottery Heritage Fund

  • Postcode Lottery players the Postcode Lottery

  • Northumbrian Water

  • Garfield Weston Foundation

Thank you for your support!

bottom of page