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Winning the battle against knotweed in Dún Chaoin

Optimism invasive Japanese weed will be brought under control in the parish by 2020


A community-backed campaign to eradicate the widespread infestation of Japanese knotweed in Dún Chaoin, which started last year, is already showing very positive results and it is now hoped that the invasive weed will be brought under control in the parish by 2020.

The campaign, spearheaded by Comharchumann Dhún Chaoin and supported by local landowners, began last year amid growing concerns that knotweed was running out of control in the parish.

In Baile Bhiocáire and Ceathrú, gardens and homes that weren't regularly maintained had become engulfed by the weed, Baile an Ghleanna and Droichead Bán had extensive infestations and the knotweed was spreading rapidly along the banks of streams to Béal Atha and colonizing adjacent fields.

An initial survey conducted by Comharchumann Dhún Chaoin estimated that 11,000 square metres of land was affected by knotweed. However, a more detailed investigation conducted by Envirico - a company specializing in knotweed eradication - revealed that the weed extended over 27,000 square metres (five square kilometres).

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Envirico, which opened a local office in the Dingle Hub in Cooleen early this year, began chemical treatment of the knotweed in August of last year and heavily infested areas were sprayed again early this summer. The whole parish will be re-treated in September, when knotweed is most vulnerable to weedkiller, and it is hoped that by next November the infestations will be reduced by about 95 per cent.

"Envirico have been very diligent and local people are fully supporting the campaign and are taking great responsibility," said John Kennedy of Comharchumann Dhún Chaoin. "There is a very visible difference in one year … It's going in the right direction and by November of next year we expect to have the knotweed reduced to about five per cent of what we had starting off."

The Dún Chaoin knotweed project is costing €48,000, of which €12,000 is being paid by 50 local landowners and the remaining 75 per cent is being covered by a Leader Fund grant.

Even after the main thrust of the knotweed campaign ends next November, ongoing maintenance will be needed to keep the weed from becoming re-established. However, Dun Chaoin can face the long term challenge with optimism born of strong community support and the encouragement of seeing that "the bluebells have emerged again in Droichead Bán this year".