Are we there yet …??

Author: Mike Clough

Date Posted: Wednesday 15th February 2017

As a child I wasn’t famous for my patience. When we went to Kent to visit our relatives I would be asking, ‘Are we there yet?’… pretty much as soon as we left Glossop. This would irritate the hell out of my father who would grind his teeth for the next 240 miles until we arrived at our destination…

I have noticed a similar obsession with our clients with regards the anticipated death of Japanese knotweed, ‘Is it dead yet? Is it dead yet?’…

I am also now beginning to notice a rather more worrying problem in that the overall perception of the whole invasive species issue has been lowered from everyone’s sight line. This can be explained fairly simply – in that there are far more worrying things around than a few plants growing where they shouldn’t.

If you are faced with a choice of worrying about Mr. Trump having his finger hovering over the nuclear launch control …OR …a few Himalayan balsam plants appearing on your nearby parkland…it’s easy to see that most people will lose sleep over Mr. Trump.

I gave a presentation to a company in Sale, Manchester a few years ago and just outside their car park I noticed a very small clump of Japanese knotweed. I referred to the clump during the presentation and said to them, ‘If you get your act together you can get rid of this infestation quickly, easily and cheaply, before it becomes a major problem’.

They assured me that this would be put in hand.

Five years later, the same company asked me back to give them an update on all things invasive and low and behold just outside their offices …the same clump of Japanese knotweed now roughly 50 metres by 25 metres – a major bloody problem. This is the same small piece of Japanese knotweed that I spotted years before…they had done nothing about it.

Instead of giving my presentation in their boardroom, I dragged the whole team outside and said, ‘This is exactly what I’m talking about…’

They all looked sheepish and everyone pointed their fingers at everyone else. But …and this is what happens…all of these people had driven past this clump of knotweed growing and spreading day after day, week after week, year after year….and done nothing about it.

Unless it’s stopping a development and somebody has some money to spend …then many of these invasive species problems will just not get tackled. Most invasive species grow and spread along linear corridors such as rivers, canals, railways – and most are on land owned or managed by companies with little or no funding to deal with the problems.

The government’s latest legislation goes a long way toward helping prevent NEW invasive species getting established …but…existing infestations of Japanese knotweed are deemed so large as to be too extensive to legislate against. This means that basically anybody with large areas of knotweed will not be empowered to manage or control these areas unless they grow beyond their site boundary.

But …what message does this send to the general population – pretty much ….that this is not THAT important …

So in answer to the question, ‘Are we there yet?’ with invasive species management, the answer is still a resounding…. ‘no’ …

For continued discussion on this topic, please note this year’s seminar on 17th May at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.

Tickets on sale now.

Mike C

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Mike Clough

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