People in Jersey have been helping in the fight against one of the world’s most invasive plants by using a free mobile phone app.
Japanese knotweed is among the world’s top 100 most invasive species, smothering entire areas and dominating all other plant life. It can also damage property. The Department of the Environment is trying to accurately map the extent of the problem in Jersey, but needs more help from the public to identify where it’s growing.
Last year the department launched a free app called PlantTracker which allows Islanders to record and email geo-located photos of suspect plants straight to the plant health laboratory. The app was a great success, and with the help of the public, more than 80 new sites were identified.
Department staff are currently visiting and checking each site so they can verify the map of knotweed locations and work out the scale of the problem before considering options to prevent it spreading further or trying to eradicate it.
The department is enlisting the help of planning officers to work with the construction industry because it can spread when developers move soil between sites.
The department is also reminding people that because knotweed spreads via its roots and from fragments of the plant, strimming or flailing only increases the problem. Cutting, hand-pulling and herbicides are the most effective methods of eradication. One further option being explored is injecting the plant with glyphosate.
The Environment Department’s head of plant health, Scott Meadows, said “People can help in two simple but effective ways. If it’s on your property, please play your part and get rid of it.
“Secondly, because knowing where the plants are is the first part of any plan to eradicate it, please download the app and when you’re out and about, walking the dog, or wearing out the kids, if you spot this incredibly invasive plant, take a quick picture and email it to us. As we build up a more comprehensive picture of where it’s growing, we can assess the scale of the problem and target our resources more effectively.”
The PlantTracker app is available at no charge from the iTunes App Store or Google Play or from http://planttracker.naturelocator.org/
The app features 14 invasive plant species, but the department is asking Jersey users to restrict their recordings to knotweed. Guidance on identifying knotweed and on how to submit pictures are included in the app.