Over the last ten to fifteen years the problems with non-native invasive plants have taken a higher public profile as more people have become aware of the problems they can cause. Recent articles in newspapers and high profile television coverage have ramped up the panic leading to mortgages being refused and a spate of high profile litigation.
This increase in profile has led to a flurry of new companies coming into the industry and proclaiming themselves ‘experts’ in the field of invasive species eradication. Many companies have also added an invasive sector in an attempt to boost flagging sales, in a number of cases this is completely unrelated to their core business.
The lack of correct controls, accreditations and knowledge within a large number of these new companies poses a significant threat to both the domestic house market and commercial development, two areas that are vital to ensuring the recovery of the UK economy.
There are a huge range of invasive non-native plant species established within the UK and each requires a specific knowledge of growth habit and legislative requirements. There is not a ‘one hit’ strategy that works for every type of species, each requires tailor made methods and detailed follow up and aftercare.
The majority of these invasive non-native species cannot be treated in a single season. It could be a huge seed bed that will continue to regenerate for years after the parent plant has been killed such as with Giant hogweed. Or perhaps a rhizome network beneath the ground which acts as a storage organ such as Japanese knotweed – in either of these cases an aftercare management plan is an essential tool to complete the eradication process. Some strategies may take several years to completely eradicate a target species with repeat visits an essential part of the process.
The Invasive Non-Native Specialists Association (INNSA) is the industry body for companies involved in controlling and eradicating invasive non-native species. Membership demonstrates professional knowledge and understanding of invasive species and the best methods for eradicating them. Registration with INNSA provides members with a recognised accreditation backed by a comprehensive insurance scheme.
INNSA aim to
Customers need to know that the companies they employ are operating to agreed standards and that the prices they quote can be for comparable works.
All works offered to domestic customers will come with an insurance backed guarantee designed to give peace of mind to home owners and to ensure that in the event of a company ceasing to trade – all warranty commitments are honoured.
INNSA require members to go through a strict process of application and will be required to be BASIS qualified as well as having strict financial checks carried out during an annual audit. ISO 9000 and ISO 14001 for companies with more than 5 members of staff will also be a requisite of members to ensure that clients know that all processes within the company are monitored and measurable.
Training will be offered to new members where appropriate, and newsletters and website will aim to keep members aware of any new issues within the industry. There will be a conference on an annual basis and respected figures within the industry will be invited to speak and inform members of research and development within the industry.
We look forward to a world where works can be offered on a level playing field and the ‘smoke and mirrors’ approach of less reputable companies disappears as quickly as they arrived.