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In response to growing demand, JPA has launched an Audit of Invasive Plant Species service. It has been designed by our BASIS-registered invasives expert to help developers, landowners and estate or campus managers assess how well they are meeting their legal, economic and ethical obligations with regard to injurious weeds and invasive species.

Do you need to audit?

Invasive and injurious species are generally accepted to be one of the biggest threats to the UK’s native flora and fauna.

‘Injurious weeds’ are technically categorised as those that harm agriculture - in other words constrain the growth of crops or are poisonous to farm animals – and include Ragwort, Docks and Thistles. These are controlled by the Weeds Act 1959 and various subsequent regulations, and there are clear economic, and even reputational, imperatives for containing them.

‘Invasives’ are typically species that are non-native, wild and rampant growers which seek to dominate any space. In the process they upset the native natural ecosystem, destroy native flora and impoverish the habitat of many native fauna. Some, like Japanese knotweed, can be so persistent that they damage hard surfaces and structures. Others can harm people: for example, the sap of Giant hogweed contains harmful chemicals which can cause human skin to become hyper-sensitive to sunlight, resulting in blistering, pigmentation and even persistent scarring. Perhaps surprisingly, this category also includes popular horticultural plants, such as Rhododendrons, Buddleias, Dogwoods, Cotoneasters and Crocosmias. The legal status and reputational and economic impacts of these are less well-defined.

Nevertheless, it is widely accepted that anyone responsible for land, estate or holding - be that rural or urban, commercial, industrial, residential or amenity and managed for private or public access – has a responsibility to ensure that it is managed to prevent any injurious and invasive species from becoming ‘too’ established.

Reassuring expertise

The JPA Audit of Invasive Plant Species service has been designed to help managers responsibly and sustainably manage their sites. It includes:

  • An assessment of high-level policies that affect land management
  • Land surveillance to identify and map the presence of invasive and injurious species
  • Assessment of staff awareness, knowledge and commitment to best practice management of invasive and injurious species
  • Appraisal of relevant land, plant supply/disposal, compost and supply chain policies, processes, practices and documentation against accepted best horticultural practice
  • Advice on current legislation, new threats and community expectations 
  • Report on conclusions from the above points, their implications for both site operations and higher level management practices, policies and documentation, and recommended actions.

If required, JPA’s experts can offer additional complementary services, including:

  • Development of a control, management and mitigation programme for invasive and injurious species, tailored to work with existing practices and policies, along with method statements to guide the execution of recommended actions
  • Execution and/or overseeing of this programme
  • Staff training, ‘toolbox talks’ and supervision in the identification and management of invasive and injurious species.

JPA founder Jeremy Peirce said: ‘The management of invasive species and injurious weeds is really just the implementation of good sustainable environmental land management and accepted best horticultural practice. However, it can be difficult to maintain such standards across a site over time, with competing demands on time and budget, staff changes and updates of any overlapping policies all likely to have an impact. An audit like this can reinstate best practice, refresh skills and ensure that obligations are met – all of which is good for an organisation’s reputation as well as our native environment.’