Ever Heard of the Invasive Plant Parkslide?
That’s what Japanese knotweed is called in Swedish and it’s certainly hit the headlines over the last couple of weeks, with stories all over the Swedish national and regional media such as SVT, which is rather like the BBC and national broadsheet Dagens Nyheter.
Japanese knotweed is a major issue in Sweden, as it is in most European countries, but awareness is very low and most people don’t appreciate the extent of its invasive nature or the effect it can have on property. There are no laws to protect homeowners, meaning if Japanese knotweed spreads into your garden in Sweden or if you buy a house with an infestation, there’s no legal recourse. It’s not even an offence to plant Japanese knotweed in the wild!
The response to Japanese knotweed varies hugely from country to country, with the UK certainly the most advanced in terms of knowledge, awareness and treatment methods. This means that while we’re working hard to tackle the plant here in the UK, with infestations being treated every time a property changes hands, elsewhere in Europe and across the world it’s still spreading unchecked.
In France, Japanese knotweed doesn’t even make it onto a list of plants that can’t be introduced into the environment, while in the USA they often use goats to graze on knotweed, which is actually more likely to spread the plant than kill it.
As awareness grows in Sweden and across the rest of Europe, legislation is likely to follow with a new industry developing to treat invasive plants as it has here in the UK and mortgage lenders wising up to the problem and taking action to protect their capital.