We give a roundup of knotweed in the news for December 2015. News includes a new guide from the Property Care Association; is biological control our best defence against pests such as knotweed?; courses in control of Japanese knotweed aim to "normalise" public conception of the invasive weed; a four-year project has cleared 30,000m2 of knotweed.
Guide gives clarity on Japanese knotweed
The Southern Reporter wrote about a new guide that has been launched by the Property Care Association (PCA) to give a comprehensive picture on the main issues surrounding the invasive plant Japanese knotweed.
The move follows the recent announcement from the Home Office that it is has reformed anti-social powers to introduce Community Protection Notices that could be used to deal with non-native invasive plants.
Written by Professor Max Wade – chairman of the PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group – the guide gives details about the government’s introduction of Community Protection Notices, which could see fines of up to £20,000 imposed for companies failing to tackle the problem.
Individuals would be forced to comply too, or face a fine of up to £2,500.
Along with details on the new control measures, the eight-page PCA guide, entitled ‘A guide to the problems caused by Japanese knotweed and how to deal with them’ also provides some useful dos and don’ts, details on preventative measures to stop the plant taking hold in the first place and guidance on how to recognise it.
The guide is available to view from the PCA’s homeowner guidance zone
Biological control: Our best defence against pests such as knotweed?
The Guardian published an article/interview with expert Dr Dick Shaw from CABI, which specialises in solving problems in agriculture and the environment, explaining how biological control can help against non-native species that can become invasive.
Here is an extract on the interview:
Q: What sort of plants are causing a problem in the UK?
A: Knotweed and Himalayan balsam are two.
Q: You’ve recently released a rust fungus from the Himalayas to control the balsam. What’s the outlook?
A: Rust fungi tend to be incredibly specific. We are expecting that to spread rapidly, being an airborne spore, and hopefully that will reduce Himalayan balsam on a national scale.
Q: What’s being trialed to control Japanese knotweed?
A: [An insect] called Aphalara itadori. It’s their offspring that really do the job – they suck the sap out and the plant puts a lot of investment into producing more and more sap. We’ve been doing limited releases at a few sites, isolated away from other knotweed and away from rivers. The regulator will make a decision on how we can proceed. The best-case scenario is we can release it wherever we want on a massive scale. Worst-case scenario is we stick with the sites we’ve got and keep plodding on until we’ve got some more data.
Japanese knotweed courses aim to ‘normalise’ the invasive plant
Horticulture Week reported on how the Property Care Association had a surge of enquiries from property and land management specialists for its training courses on the control of Japanese knotweed. Operatives in the invasive weed control industry have shown great interest too, the association said.
Property Care Association chief executive Steve Hodgson said: “Japanese knotweed is just a plant and we are taking all steps necessary to ‘normalise’ it, so it is viewed generally as any other type of property problem, in that it can be identified and treated, with minimal impact
“Having trained professionals operating in the industry is key to that and our courses are helping to share the latest thinking and expertise to enable Japanese knotweed to be controlled, and to give reassurance to lenders that it can be remediated.”
The programme includes the two-day, modular course, Control and Eradication of Japanese Knotweed, which focuses mainly on identification and control measures also briefly covers other invasive plants that staff should be aware of.
Courses are aimed at professionals in sectors including construction and development, surveying, horticulture, ecology and land remediation.
The PCA also launched a new training programme last year for technicians and field operatives working on the control and management of Japanese knotweed.
The one day course ‘Japanese knotweed PCA Qualified Technician,’ is targeted at site workers who want to understand more about the plant and its eradication.
This course teaches students in a classroom environment the technical, biological and academic principles of controlling Japanese knotweed.
Both courses have been developed following the creation of the PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group in 2012.
Knotweed project clears 30,000m2 of invasive plant
Over the last four years the Galloway Fisheries Trust (GFT) has been a partner in a cross-border project to tackle invasive species. And now the ‘Controlling Invasives, Restoring Biodiversity (CIRB) project is coming to an end.
Project partners were from the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland, all of which have undertaken large-scale control of invasive plants in Ireland, Ayrshire, Tweed Valley, Argyll and Galloway. GFT led the work across Galloway with nearly 30,000 square metres of Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed controlled across the banks of the River Luce, Piltanton Burn, Bladnoch, Water of Fleet, Kirkcudbrightshire Dee and Urr over four years.
In addition to GFT staff and contractors undertaking the control work, 12 local volunteers were trained in pesticide application to City and Guilds standards and they are actively involved in killing the invasive plants annually. Various aspects of biosecurity awareness and public events have been run through the project with the aim of reducing the spread of alien species around the region.
A CIRB ‘end of project’ two day conference was recently held in the North West Castle Hotel in Stranraer. GFT then led a field trip to the Water of Luce which considered various issues including the reactivation of Japanese knotweed rhizomes (roots) following ground disturbance even after the plant appears dead for years. Although the CIRB project is coming to an end the GFT, local District Salmon Fishery Boards and volunteers will continue to control these invasive plants along river banks.
The project has been part financed by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund through the INTERREG IVA Cross-border Programme. Queens University Belfast (QUB) undertook associated research looking at the success of various control techniques and considered how similar programmes should be undertaken in the future.
The Trust is always looking for more volunteers to help in their work, see www.gallowayfisheriestrust.org for contact details. It would help if any members of the public reported any sightings of Japanese knotweed, Giant hogweed or balsam on the following website www.inns.rafts.org.uk.