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Improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment

Winning gold: leading the fight against invasive plants

Invasive weeds not only cost governments and other authorities around the world hundreds of millions of pounds to control, but also seriously threaten work towards SDG 15: Life on Land.

In the UK alone, Japanese Knotweed costs the British economy £165 million a year. It is notorious for pushing through asphalt, building foundations, concrete retaining walls, and even drains, causing significant damage.

However, CABI, thanks to the support of its donors and collaboration with expert scientists in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, India and the UK, is fighting back to conserve biodiversity and ecosystems, and improve the prevention and management of invasive species in river systems.

The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) continues to fund CABI’s work around the EU Water Framework Directive, to limit the damaging effects of Australian swamp stonecrop, floating pennywort, Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed. This is on top of our privately funded work on controlling water fern.

Central to CABI’s work is the search and safety testing of biological controls to protect waterways where chemical and mechanical control options are impractical or too expensive.


Winning gold at Chelsea Flower Show

In 2017, CABI was honoured with a gold medal for its educational display entitled Nature vs Invader at the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show in the UK.

CABI scientist Suzy Wood, in collaboration with the CABI communications team, developed the display showcased in the ‘Discovery Zone’ to show the impact of invasive weeds on the UK’s environment and infrastructure, including Japanese knotweed on property prices, buddleia on British railways and Himalayan balsam on riversides, together with the natural solutions to combat them.

The display featured an area dedicated to invasive plants affecting livelihoods in developing countries, giving the audience an opportunity to hear more about this global problem via our Green Invasion video.