Facts: The Law on Invasive Plants in the UK

The balance of the ecosystem seems to be an impossible dream in a modern world. Land development in building structural sites would also need trees and plants for a softer landscape. On the other hand, there are plant species which are considered to be “pests” rather than helpful elements in the environment. Non-native invasive plants are those plant species that can ruin the natural habitat and cycle of living in the areas where they propagate.

In the United Kingdom, there are about 66 plant species which are considered to be invasive. So if you’re purposely growing them in your backyard, you might want to start eradicating them before they ruin your property. The five of the most common invasive non-native species are: Rhododendron Ponticum, Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed, Himalayan Balsam, and Grey Squirrels.

The Cost of Growing Invasive Plants

There are thousands of non-native plant species found in the United Kingdom and some of them are considered distractive. The control and eradication of these species are expected to be laborious and expensive. In Swansea City alone, the government spent £ 1.25 million to treat the area with Japanese Knotweed. The Olympic site in London was also not spared by this problem and cost the budget £ 70 million. In 2003, invasive plants cost the UK Parliament about £ 1.56 billion.

The Law on Invasive Non-native Plants

Japanese KnotweedIt is an offence to grow or dump invasive plants in the local streams or woodlands under the Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act or 1981. The government prohibits the sale of the said species and anyone caught doing this will face government-implemented penalty. Note that growing the species is considered to be a criminal offence which carries a fine of £ 5,000 and/or 2 years of imprisonment.
Because of the law, people are encouraged to follow strict guidelines to help eradicate these plant species. The formation of the Global Invasive Species Programme in 1997 conceptualized strategies on how to eradicate them which was published in 2001 for everyone to read.

What do you do if you find at least one invasive plant growing in your area?

The government supports three types of control methods depending on the type of invasive species found in your area: manual, mechanised, and chemical follow-up. The materials needed for eradication will be provided by the government. In return, you should be able to keep these plants from growing at a given time. Treatment process usually lasts for five years or less, depending on the result of the method.

However, not all people are allowed to apply for this program. Land managers with limited or minimal land ownership are the only ones who are allowed to apply. Other than that, geographical and other considerations may also apply:

  1. The property in which the land manager owns should be in the specified targeted areas.
  2. Land managers may issue funding request for the area that needs work.
  3. Land managers should be the first one to report the kind of invasive species in the area.

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