Fera Japanese Knotweed: Lessons Learned Excercise
Phlorum was involved in the consultation process to review the proposed release of a biological control agent to manage Japanese knotweed. This culminated in a workshop in 2009 to discuss the issues raised by consultees, which was followed by further representations being submitted to Fera.
The release of the pysllid Aphalara itadori (a sap sucking bug related to aphids) was subsequently approved in 2010 in order for field trials to commence.
As a part of the Lessons Learned process to review the success of the consultation process and ultimate release of A. itadori, Fera interviewed several respondents on how their concerns about the bio-control programme were addressed. This included Dr Paul Beckett from Phlorum.
The final Lessons Learned report was published early in 2012. The report makes many recommendations that will be applied to future applications to release other bio-control agents for other pest species (which could still include Japanese knotweed).
One of Phlorum’s main concerns was that a robust cost benefit analysis was not carried out in order to fully explore the benefits versus the risks of releasing a foreign biological agent into the wild. This was noted by Fera and a recommendation for more thorough investigations of the costs and benefits of biological control has been raised for future applications.
The process for assessing the environmental impacts of A. itadori does seem to have been thorough and it has indicated that the risks of unacceptable impact are probably low. However, the evidence demonstrating effective Japanese knotweed control that would show that the risks of release were worth it is yet to be seen.
Contact Fera directly for more information on the Japanese Knotweed: Lessons Learned Exercise.