Former Letterkenny Town Councillor Sean O’Donnell has called for the eradication of invasive plant species to be adopted as an objective of the County Development Plan 2018 – 2024.
The most problematic non-native species is Japanese Knotweed, which is difficult to eradicate completely.
Since last September, Donegal County Council has established a 4 Year Invasive Alien Plant Species Treatment Programme in which each infestation will need to be treated for a minimum of four years in succession to ensure eradication. They take into account the pesticide used, the time of year in which to treat it and focus on the underground rhizome as opposed to just the aerial parts.
O’Donnell says that the land use objectives of the plan and planning practices should be cognisant of the spread of such species and militate against it.
He suggests a systematic programme be put in place to help curb the plant, and asks for improved knowledge and dissemination of information to the public on how to deal with the species.
The ability to recognise the plant, the best methods and herbicides we can use to eradicate them, and the most effective time of year to treat the plants will have to be considered, says O’Donnell.
He also highlights the “don’ts” that contribute to the spread of the plants
- Do not strim
- Do not disturb the soil for seven metres around the plant.
- Do not attempt to dig up the root system.
- Do not cut back and leave the cuttings on the ground.
- Do not compost the cuttings, or put them in a bin/dump.
- Do not ignore it.
Farmers in particular should be aware of their obligations under regulation 49-50 of the European Communities (Bird and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 says O’Donnell, and asks that workshops and training be provided to front line staff such as those carrying out the treatment processes, and the private and public hedge cutting operators.
He also advises that Japanese Knotweed be included on the list of noxious weeds, and suggests that Teagasc would be a valuable partner in the bid to eradicate these plants.
Other invasive plant species recorded in Donegal include; Giant Hogweed, which can cause harm to human health, and Himalayan Balsan, which poses a threat to the environment and biodiversity.
If you become aware of any type of invasive alien plant species including Knotweed along a public road, please report it by contacting the Council in any of the following ways:
Report it online at www.donegalcoco.ie
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By phone: 074 91 53900