Tackling Invasive Plants with Incineration

Rhododendron

Over the years, several large non-native species of plant have been introduced to the UK, both deliberately and accidentally, with the aim of increasing our biodiversity and green environment.

However, a small number of non-native species have established and caused a detrimental effect on our landscape. For example, the Royal Horticultural Society says non-native invasive plants can ‘change ecosystems and habitats and have non-biotic effects, such as reducing or impeding water flow leading to flooding, or changing the pH or the chemical composition of the soil’.

Invasive plant species are fast becoming difficult to manage, and an expensive burden for homeowners, developers, councils, landlords and railway networks. Rules are changing on the ways people can kill invasive plant species, while landfills now must hold suitable permits for their disposal making it even harder to manage and dispose of plants which are having a devastating environmental impact.

Russian vine Fallopia baldschuanica

How to identify invasive plants

There are several different types of non-native invasive plants and species within the UK. The types of plants most likely to cause disruption are:

  • New Zealand Pigmyweed – Usually found in still or slow flowing water bodies, New Zealand Pigmyweed spreads quickly and can form dense mats that block drainage, therefore causing flooding, as well as outcompeting native plants.
  • Cotoneaster species – Introduced from East Asia, Cotoneaster plant species spread through pollination from birds eating and dropping berries. It can dominate rough or waste ground forming an extensive root system, which is difficult to eradicate.
  • Himalayan Balsam – Himalayan Balsam is easily recognisable, typically found in river banks and damp places. Its explosive seed heads spread widely via water, forming dense stands that outcompete native plants. During the summer particularly, its fast growth can impede water flow and lead to flooding. When it dies back in the winter, it can leave bare banks exposed to erosion.
  • Giant Hogweed – Particularly found along river banks, Giant hogweed’s (Heracleum mantegazzianum) can grow up to five meters tall very rapidly, and has abundant seed production which causes it to dominate native vegetation and block access to river banks. This leads to soil erosion, increased flood risk and – if it comes into contact with humans – serious skin blisters.
  • Japanese Knotweed – Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica), is often encountered on development sites, as it can tolerate a wide range of disturbed conditions, such as urban areas, schools, watercourses and waste ground. It can be difficult to eradicate because it can regrow from even very small root fragments.
  • Rhododendron – An established non-native invasive species within the UK, rhododendron can grow up to eight metres tall, spreading to fill the space which is available to it, either remaining as a small shrub, or, if light conditions and other resources allow, outcompeting and displacing all other vegetation and local fauna. It has been known to spread at a rate of 1 km² every five years while the cost of prevention and eradication of the weed can cost those affected thousands of pounds every year.

When it comes to non-native invasive plant species, identification is the first step towards management. But rules are changing on the steps that can be taken to ensure outdoor spaces aren’t tarnished by plants which threaten our existing natural environment.

How to remove and kill invasive plants

The removal of invasive plants has traditionally been done using chemicals sprays. But recently, the toxicity levels and environmental damage of these products has been considered too high and the Environmental Agency are currently reviewing whether to ban certain ones in the UK and further afield.

Incineration is now deemed the most effective, biosecure and complete solution to remove invasive plants – which are classed as controlled waste under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 – and destroy them to ensure they don’t grow back.

Our plant/vegetation incinerators are effective against Invasive Plants, providing total destruction of plant material. They’re regularly recommended in ‘species action plans’ and our mobile and portable solutions are designed to be highly effective for on-site incineration.

Read more on invasive plants HERE and find out how Inciner8 can support you to effectively destroy invasive plants.

If you need to find more information regarding incinerators for invasive plants and the benefits one could give you please visit our main page: Incinerator Manufacturer & Waste Incineration Expert | INCINER8 or alternatively call us on +44 (0) 1704 884020 or email our expert sales advisors at sales@inciner8.com

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