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Killing knotweed without chemicals

Killing knotweed without chemicals

A paradigm-changing way of managing knotweed is entering its fifth year in Roberts Creek without breaking ground, showing how long-term community commitment and avoiding the use the use of herbacides can create a healthier environment for all.

In April 2014, the Official Community Planning Committee (OCPC) in Roberts Creek researched best practices for knotweed removal when a large patch of knotweed in a high-use family area was being considered for glyphosate spraying. This prompted members of the OCPC to take action on an alternate approach.  

“I think we’ve had major success with a 99-per-cent reduction in knotweed at Henderson Beach,” says Dianne Sanford. “To my knowledge this is the only project on the coast that exists like this.”

Dianne Sanford, environmental consultant, and Dana Wilson, permaculture designer, knocked on doors throughout the community to recruit volunteers and signed a five-year agreement with Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) and the SCRD, committing to manually cut back knotweed at Henderson Beach every two weeks starting at the end of May when all of the plant’s energy is going towards flowering. The cuttings keep the roots undisturbed, and discourage photosynthesis. This technique was chosen based on the successes at several other sites, according to restoration consultant David Polster.

This pilot project is cutting the knotweed to encourage native species to return to this area. This involves cutting the plant at the ground level every two weeks during the growing season, and keeping the cuttings away from the soil so that they dry out.

Knotweed has the potential to overgrow the area and into surrounding properties, which has motivated us to initiate a program to support a chemical-free approach in accordance with our Official Community Plan. 

Due to its success, this project has the potential to serve as a model for glyphosate- (Roundup) free invasive plant management. 

In the years that follow, we hope that this project will inspire those in the larger community that know how to identify the plant to remove the knotweed that they see, without disturbing the roots, and put those pieces away from contact with the soil. 

Please contact, Dana or Dianne at hendersonbeachproject@gmail.com if you want to be involved in the project in its final year.

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