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How to Control Japanese Knotweed ~ by WoodlandsTV

By woodlandstv

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With an academic background in biology, environmental forestry and eco-physiology, Dr Paul Beckett shares his expertise in Japanese Knotweed - its life-cycle, different methods of managing it, plus the legalities of it being a `controlled waste`. In collaboration with Professor Anthony Moore of the University of Sussex and Julia Shearman, a PhD student funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council, he is looking at new ways to inhibit the rapid growth of this invasive plant.
An Adliberate film http://www.adliberate.co.uk for WoodlandsTV http://www.woodlands.co.uk/tv

Posted in: Skills ~ On: 7 April, 2014

24 comments so far

Butterfly Lullaby
November 1, 2017

P.S. Thanks I have added this website link to my Blog. Much appreciated!

November 1, 2017

Context matters–your research and perspectives come from valid perspectives. In the scope of the actual issue, invasive non-native plant species are often wonderful where they're from, but very destructive in other places for reasons the video starts to explain. Japanese Knotweed has its uses and potential–I never contested that, and I respect the plant a lot for its resilience and versatility. I'm also of East Asian descent–including Japanese. I recognize most Western medicine research is slow to adopt or grasp what specifically works about holistic approaches.

It's important to remember there's a difference between medicine for people, and care for natural ecological heritage, and that people aren't the only things that live with an ecosystem–local native plants and animals sometimes rely on very special conditions to survive, and a plant like Japanese Knotweed can crowd out or kill off the plants that other animals might rely on in a way that makes it comparable to an epidemic. In U.S. natural areas, there are a lot of native plants that are already endangered, and this means many birds no longer nest or even have a place to migrate to because they rely on specific kinds of grass, brush, or trees.

There's also a difference between thinking about time as a human for 13 years, and living as a plant for centuries. Nature often acts in the long-term, and the way plants behave might not be as you'd expect when their strategies for reproduction happen at a different level. Plants in the Agave family flower once in 50-80 years just before dying depending on the species. Bamboo flowers once every 80-120 years depending on the species.

Trusting that people will eat it or most invasive plants/animals as a way to solve hunger is very unlikely to work, it's like believing that if more people were suffering from violence in your country, people would become more compassionate.

I've eaten plenty of a different edible invasive plant here in the U.S.–garlic mustard–in sandwiches and salads, and I also foraged for other fruits and wild plants. It's not enough to solve hunger even during times when I've been extremely low-income.

Regarding transportation, a few possibilities–1) the area is frequently used for research, most people in that department are probably already aware of Japanese Knotweed and more likely to take action when they see it growing out of place if a piece gets loose and takes root. 2) it might be sloppy practice, but if the region is already infested then taking a sample out without completely containing it makes little difference. 3) If we're thinking of the same clip, they put it's root in a sealed plastic containers, which preserves the root without risking its spread so they can study its structures in the lab.

I'm checking out your website now and listening to some of the videos there too. My challenge to you is to spend time learning with folks who earned their degree(s) in environmental science, ecology/plant ecology (you're chatting with one who did but I think the best thing is to get to hang out with them in person and learn as they see/work for the rest of the context). Hopefully you'll find people who have an exceptional appreciation for the native landscape. Beyond the reasons given in the video we're all commenting on, Japanese Knotweed is unique because its roots are very powerful, they can eventually "eat" into building foundations, it spreads so easily, and it's so challenging to manage or kill off once it's well-established which makes it more like an epidemic and turns into a visceral economic threat to people. Your plant is probably still establishing where it is, and the only one in its area, it's not an epidemic where it's at yet.

Answering your question about marketing, I worked/still work occasionally in marketing: people are drawn to the idea of anything that 1) seems to helps them+others 2) might be unique
Unscrupulous companies and people wanting to exploit that will happily promote anything that even seems like it has potential without actually testing or fulfilling their claim.

Think about how many artificial juices are being marketed so heavily, why tap water marketed from exotic places in the world (Fiji, for example), or why some companies later have to retract their claims that a shoe or learning software really improves your _ (running endurance, memory). In that last case, the running shoe company might have had a good hunch, but did not test long enough to prove it. The memory game company might have had good intentions, but did not actually do the research to prove it before selling their product.

You asked about funding for doing scientific research–looking up Universities doing pharmaceutical or microbiology research might be your best route to pursue. Google Scholar can give you a great start in finding researchers and universities focused on the plant, or (I suspect you're interested in its active compound resversatrol?) its specific compound(s). They'll probably be able to point out where they get their funding (sometimes even acknowledged in their studies), or you might be able to collaborate.

I saw your question about "why are my tax dollars going toward fighting this plant when it might have useful benefits?" — coordinating between agencies/departments that can look at beneficial uses vs. those that know it's a priority to manage/stop the spread of the plant would be a new endeavor, and it probably takes new leadership in order to balance out the two. You should ask your government officials or representatives, or maybe find ways to collaborate there.

Just know transitioning from traditional medicine into something that's accepted by empirical Western academia can be a slow process. Since 2008, despite declarations from the WHO and CDC that medicine needs new medications for fungal treatments to prevent a mycoresistant/antibiotic resistant (fungus/bacteria immune to medication) crisis, people are still trying to figure out exactly how spices garlic or Turmeric work. As antifungal/antimicrobal agents (in particular, what specific compound in it, curcumin, does and how it works) Turmeric is still used as an alternative to neosporin on cuts and women were once covered in it after childbirth in South/Southeast Asia for centuries or maybe millennia. But there are fair reasons for making sure medicine and science understands why and how it works (what do the other compounds do? Do they play well with other medicines or cancel them out?).

Butterfly Lullaby
November 3, 2017

Thank you for your kind reply. There is a lot to read, but I will go through it. I agree, it is important that Japanese Knotweed should not be allowed to take over certain areas, because wildlife depends on certain plants. And you do not want it growing close by any property. But I can tell you from experience, Japanese Knotweed is nowhere as bad as CREEPING BUTTERCUP. This plant has taken over my back garden completely. Something Japanese Knotweed has not done. And I have lived here for 15 years. I find the creeping buttercup plant a nightmare, as it is taking over from my much loved plantain and dandelion plants. So having a degree or not, the facts still stand that CREEPING BUTTERCUP is a far worse problem. Why? Because it is TOXIC! And really takes over like a cancer. Japanese Knotweed is not toxic, and is a very useful plant. My father used to work for the Council as a gardener, and even he will tell you this plant can be kept under control.

I am having a meeting with our Local Independent Council next year with regards to using Japanese Knotweed to help families earn from home. Thankfully, the Councillor I speak to has an open mind; however, I know certain Laws and regulations hold us back.

My friend is an ex nurse, if it was not for her, Google, You Tube and Dr. Michael Greger I would still be in terrible health. And overweight. She warned me that Asthma Inhalers destroy your health.

Nicholas Culpeper was a HERO. He gave the power back to the people by translating Latin Medical books into English. Now we have a new MEDICAL HERO. Dr. Michael Greger. Thanks to him, I found out that I can actually get off my Asthma Inhalers by eating a Plant Based Diet. He has a saying:

About NutritionFacts.org
Whenever there is a new drug or surgical procedure, you can be assured that you or your doctor will probably hear about it because there’s a corporate budget driving its promotion. But what about advances in the field of nutrition? The reason we don’t see ads on TV for broccoli is the same reason groundbreaking research on the power of foods and eating patterns to affect our health and longevity gets lost and buried in the medical literature–there’s no profit motive. It may not make anyone money, but what if our lives would profit?

THERE YOU HAVE IT IN A NUTSHELL. Big corporations profit from certain things, chemical medicines being one of them! If you can heal yourself using certain plants, they make no money.

I will check the rest of your message and reply soon. Thank you!

November 8, 2017

You're welcome–a few things came to mind (building on your reply and clarifying another piece from your original message):
1) I don't mean to be dismissive about the costs and motives as solely a get-rich scheme–an alternative and very valid possibility to consider might be this: if Japanese Knotweed is native to Japan, and likely strictly regulated for international export/import, there might be a lot of initial costs associated with shipping before it gets into the U.K. to begin with.
2) I think you've pointed out an excellent area for inquiring about priorities and why one species might be more aggressive than another. I hope some of the scientists focused on invasive species management can create outreach materials for practical management and prioritization. In parts of the U.S. there's a few ways that's done to interface with the public, where some invasive plants the general thing to do is "minimize its spread" while others "don't belong in ___", and it's associated with a picture and location. Sometimes an urban area is very different from a suburban/rural location but if they're near water bodies or woodlands, the concerns might be especially important for managing runaway plants.
3) I also agree that it's important to know about and for people to have access to medicinal plants–especially for issues and diseases that people sometimes don't have access to for caring for themselves if they were to solely rely on what's on the market. I hope the medical purposes will be appreciated in equal balance with the environmental risks or consequences in mind as well. That's just a general observation/wish–the medical system and even homeopathic communities tend to be segregated from the ecology/environmental conservation communities just by the nature of how and what they study but I think it can and should change eventually.

Okay, that's it for now. Cheers!

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