I was in a discussion recently which I found really interesting even if I was slightly out of my depth knowledge wise ,
We were discussing the impact on our countryside by invasive plant species now I was undoubtedly the least intelligent of the group but found my views being adopted over some of the more educated members ,
I have a mixed opinion on the topic being a conservationist and a forager some of the plants being discussed cause a conflict within me ,
By invasive I am referring to a plant that is growing in a non familiar habitat often due to artificial introduction (man)
We were discussing a large growth of Japanese knot weed (Fallopia japonica) that had been growing over several years within the nature reserve , after I had indicated that I would be harvesting its young shots when they were of size , the committee had ruled that the patch should be eradicated due to its unhealthy impact upon the already established habitat ,
I found the conversation quite bizarre but continued to listen with interest and upon asking what I found a prompt question ” what problems do you feel the patch is causing ” the discussion fell into silence .
We then had a three hour debate within our 30min meeting oops‘ I felt that as the patch was not within any range of buildings or man made structure or within range of any water courses that there actually was no reason for any action to be taken as it seemed to be benefiting the area as regards to nectar loving insects and had no actual negative impact upon the area where it had a established , indeed I felt that it had formed a new habitat / ecosystem which offered a positive .
I am aware that it is recorded in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981as a harmful invasive species and in areas it had been responsible for large amounts of damage to buildings ,roads and flood defences and until 2010 it and giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)
were the only two on the list .
A large part of the committee was for removal of the patch and deemed it irresponsible to allow it to be left to its own devices , not because of its immediate potential to cause problems but it’s ability to be spread to area where it could cause issues hmmm was this a valid issue and upon further discussion and understanding of the plants reproduction being vegetive which means that it grows through its roots (rhizomes ) and not by seed dispersal means that it is very unlikely to be spread from the site if left to itself and if we were to manage it correctly ,
It was discussed and no decision was made as for every argument for the removal was a equally reasonable argument against it .
I could help but wonder how many of the problems with this plants spread came from mad inability to leave it alone as it seems to be that to spread across any distance it needs help .
It seems to me that man has a mental hitch that the environment/ecosystem has to match a predetermined picture that has been set by man .
Invasive ? If we are to determine a creature or plant as invasive how far back do we go 100years ? 1000years ? Our landscape has changed so much and it’s proven that this is completely down to man and it’s inability to co-exist with other species unless we can use them for a purpose to suit ourselves we can go back over history and see our impact upon ecosystems and in terms of history and time we only now feel we have the right to once we have introduced something to eradicate it and probably with a method such as bio engineered chemicals which will impact the environment far more than the plant ever would . I recently read an article in a historical flora book which told of greater plantain (Plantago major) being called white mans foot prints by Native Americans as it was introduced on the soles of sailors boots ,so my argument is why when we are the cause of these so called invasive species do we feel we have the right to control nature to suit our own ends maybe just maybe as our ecosystems change and adapt and this is the natural occurrence and we should remember we are actually part of the make up of the world not above it , I am truly saddened when I look at the wonders we have and the ones we have lost due to our stupidity as a race knowing that what I enjoy undoubtedly will not be there for future generations to embrace ,
My argument is we could spend money on having the patch treated to fit in with modern day thinking or we could have three bee hives installed around the patch and utilise it to improve the reserve .
Please don’t take this in the wrong context I understand there are instances that this and other species cause realistic problems which do need attention I just feel sometimes we blinker the reaction we have .
So rant over ………….back to foraging .