Japanese knotweed

A recent article from Great Britain reported that Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) has been having a detrimental effect on the UK housing market. Japanese knotweed was originally introduced to both Great Britain and Ireland as an ornamental garden plant, but quickly escaped into the wild. The plant is now widespread across both islands. The invasiveness of the plant is a result of its hardiness and the speed with which it can grow. Chemical treatment can take several years to fully eradicate the plant as it possesses an extensive root and rhizome system that can extend up to 3 metres below the surface. Physical removal also poses problems as the plant can regenerate from small root or stem fragments. This makes the removal option very expensive as all the potentially contaminated soil must be removed and then removed to licensed landfill sites.

Because of the difficulties removing the plant, once it has become established, one UK lender placed an embargo on lending where a property has any Japanese knotweed within its boundaries. This motivated the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors to publish advice that would enable surveyors to ‘risk-grade’ properties based on the level of the infestation. This would allow lenders, sellers and buyers to more reasonably assess the threat posed by the weed. This situation is a clear example of how invasive species can directly affect the economy, and even the wallets of individual members of the public.

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