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Cork project a blueprint for tackling plant invaders


Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed

A biodiversity project in east Cork could provide a best practice blueprint on how to effectively manage invasive species.

South and East Cork Area Development (Secad) is two years into its biodiversity project on invasive species management and chose eight sites to implement a four-year plan to tackle Japanese Knotweed.

As a local development company, Secad works with the various State agencies, organisations and local authorities.

Crucially, it also works closely with community groups and manages the Tús community work placement scheme.

William O'Halloran is the Tús leader for the biodiversity project. He feels strongly that the profile gained by Japanese Knotweed can have a detrimental effect on efforts to control it.

"The story often gets sensationalised and this has led to people wanting to do something about it but they go about it without understanding how to do the work properly and, a lot of the time, end up contributing to the issue," he says.

Knotweed rarely occurs on a single property alone. On a hedgerow it may be partly on private property and partly on a public road, which raises issues on how it can be dealt with.

"Secad works across the community and part of what we do is about addressing gaps and making connections between different groups," Mr O'Halloran adds.

"In the invasive species space, that's where we come in and we see ourselves having a role where we can help bring everyone in on the one hymn sheet and work out a way to tackle this problem which includes all the stakeholders involved."

Treatment programme

Secad's aim was to implement a project that would bring invasive species under control using best practice and ultimately share this knowledge with other people and groups.

This involved extensive research on the most up-to-date methods with expert advice and devising a treatment programme.

Eight sites in the east and south Cork area were chosen for the pilot and a combination of stem injection and spraying methods are employed, using a particular type of glyphosate Roundup, in compliance with regulations.

"I don't know of any other example anywhere where people are actually putting into practice a multi-year programme for knotweed in a community setting, the aim being to establish and learn how well the best practice actually is and then share what we learn with other people," he said.

Two years in and the project has recorded success rates of between 50pc and 95pc, although it won't be until the end of the programme its success can ultimately be evaluated.

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