A conservationist at Slimbridge Wetland Centre has all but eliminated a dangerous plant species by 'weeding' it while out running every lunch break.

Robin Jones has pulled up a staggering 5,709 Himalayan Balsams from the canal near to the famous wildlife reserve.

He took up running in 2012 and has covered nearly 300km. He began targeting the plant - which destroys other natives around it by releasing poison - after fears were raised that it would eventually spread.

Robin said: "I wouldn't go for lunchtime runs as half as much as if I didn't think there was balsam to be stopped. It's keeping me fit.

"The plant's small seeds are spread by an explosive head which can project them several metres away, meaning they spread like wildfire.

"I knew I had to take action before it ended up in the grounds of Slimbridge and thankfully it's paid off."

Himalayan Balsam was first brought to Britain by explorers in the early 19th century and was first recorded in the wild in 1855.

It is a tall, easy-on-the-eye, annual herb which grows pink, purple flowers. It thrives particularly along river beds where it outmatches native species.

But the local plants have been stopped in their tracks thanks to Robin - and he's not giving up there.

He's now turned his attention to Orange Balsam which originates in North America and, unlike Himalayan Balsam, has reached Slimbridge Wetland Centre.

He added: "These plants may look pretty but they pose a real danger to our native species and now Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust is working on removing it from the reserve.

"It just goes to show you the power of individual people taking action. Everyone has the potential to make a difference."