independent

Friday 24 October 2014

Alien invader could be the greatest threat facing Ireland

Published 09/08/2014 | 00:00

Japanese knotweed (left) what it looks like and (right) what it does. Public authorities need to declare war on this invasive menace

A Eagarthóir,

"Since I have learned to recognise it, I am beginning to see it everywhere." These are the words spoken to me recently by a friend about Japanese Knotweed and he, even allowing for a little hyperbole, is correct and becoming ever more correct.

I have been seeking to highlight the existence of this invasive species for the past three years and well over a year ago stated that it is probably the biggest problem confronting our county and indeed our country.

Japanese Knotweed may in summer time look pretty and inoffensive but it has destructive powers that have largely been ignored. Coming, as it does, from the slopes of Mount Fuji, where it has adapted to survive being assailed and covered to a considerable depth by lava, it has the power to burst its way through concrete, tarmac and walls.

House foundations, roadways and footpaths fall easy prey to its powerful and silent boring. If the plant exists close to a residence then sooner or later the dreaded crack will appear and a crisis will ensue. Road surfaces and footpaths that cost enormous amounts to provide will be destroyed and become unsafe.

Every little piece of the weed when cut or flailed becomes a new plant and can ever so easily be transported on a car or lorry tyre to a new location where it will quickly root and spread. Indeed it is acknowledged that its rapid spread has been principally facilitated by ongoing road works where those involved were not familiar with the plant and its ability to propagate.

Its existence will inevitably becoming a consideration in planning applications as it will in the matter of house insurance.

If the Knotweed begins to invade our shallow rivers and streams than it will certainly do enormous damage to all forms of aquatic life. A thicket of the weed will become an almost impenetrable obstacle to the fish and fowl that are native to our waterways.

I call on all people to acquaint themselves with the plant's appearance and I ask all public authorities - Councils, NRA, NPWS - to commence eradication measures immediately. Every euro spent now will be well spent and will save much greater expenditure in years to come.

Le Gach Dea Ghuí.

Michael Gleeson (Cllr),

Clasheen,

Cill Áirne.

Kerryman

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