Do you wash your hands after going to the toilet? …no brainer, ‘yes’ obviously…
Did you clean your boots after the last site visit you made?
Er, duuuh, probably that would be a NO…
What about all the seeds that you have been walking through?
Himalayan balsam produces thousands upon thousands of seeds all of which are looking to find a new home to spread the parent plant population. Fishermen casually wading through marginal areas of wetland will disturb the seed heads of these plants and then cross contaminate the next area that they fish unless strict cleaning procedures are carried out each time they visit a new location. Nets and boots as well as waders must all be cleaned and de-contaminated – easily done but how many of these anglers are actually doing this?
Crassula helmsii (Australian swamp stone crop) is gradually making its way Northward through the country, but how is it doing this? Birds have been blamed for picking up fragments of the plant and then dropping them in the next watercourse – unlikely – it is far more probable that a fisherman has used a contaminated net or boots and unwittingly caused the problem to spread.
Japanese knotweed doesn’t actually spread by seed, it spreads by what are called ‘propagules’ this basically means any part of the plant that you break off has the ability to re-grow. So if a piece breaks off and is casually picked up on your boot as you leave site, you will cause the plant to spread.
Good hygiene and bio-security arrangements are essential to the successful operation of any business within the land based sector.
Current high profile news stories about mortgages being refused due to the presence of Japanese knotweed will only raise the number of legal cases and litigation and is bound to result in fingers being pointed and blame being allocated wherever a mistake has been made. Anybody carrying out site works in contaminated areas must ensure that they cannot be held liable for casual cross contamination.
The exact arrangements for maintaining hygiene and bio-security will depend upon the environment in which you work and the activities carried out.
Maintaining bio-security is the responsibility of everyone who enters the site, and you will be expected to encourage others, particularly visitors, contractors or customers – to follow established procedures.
You must encourage your teams to carry out work in a way which will consider any impact on the natural environment and bio –security should become as second nature as washing your hands after going to the loo!