Daily Mail: Fear of Japanese knotweed which strangles other plants is ‘xenophobic’, says environmental expert

From the English newspaper:

An expert says it is ‘xenophobic’ to talk about non-native plants as menaces
Fred Pearce says the effects of Japanese knotweed – which strangles other plants – and invasive small animals like grey squirrels are exaggerated grossly
There are fears that the plant, which can grow 8in a day, is difficult to eradicate and can knock thousands off house prices

To gardeners, Japanese knotweed and other foreign invaders are a menace.

But an environmental expert says that when we talk about non-native species in such terms, we’re just being ‘xenophobic’.

Writer Fred Pearce says the effects of the knotweed – which strangles other plants – and invasive creatures such as grey squirrels and foreign beavers are being exaggerated.

By comparison, our own native problem species, from over-grazing red deer to nettles and brambles, are not seen as such a threat because they are British, he says.

Mr Pearce is set to give a talk at the Edinburgh Science Festival arguing that foreign animals are being ‘demonised’. Grey squirrels, introduced to Britain in the 19th century, have wiped out large numbers of native red squirrels because they carry a pox which is harmless to them but deadly to reds.

But Mr Pearce said whether British squirrels were grey or red made no difference to the natural world. Speaking ahead of his talk on Thursday, he said: ‘If you look at the language used to describe these “invasive species”, it is very xenophobic and suggests that anything foreign is bad. It is terrifyingly similar to the language which can be used about immigrants invading the country.’
By comparison, our own native problem species, from over-grazing red deer to nettles and brambles, are not seen as such a threat because they are British, he says.

Mr Pearce is set to give a talk at the Edinburgh Science Festival arguing that foreign animals are being ‘demonised’. Grey squirrels, introduced to Britain in the 19th century, have wiped out large numbers of native red squirrels because they carry a pox which is harmless to them but deadly to reds.

But Mr Pearce said whether British squirrels were grey or red made no difference to the natural world. Speaking ahead of his talk on Thursday, he said: ‘If you look at the language used to describe these “invasive species”, it is very xenophobic and suggests that anything foreign is bad. It is terrifyingly similar to the language which can be used about immigrants invading the country.’

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
This entry was posted in Diversity. Bookmark the permalink.