I was sad to speak to somebody yesterday whose colleague – a landscape operative – narrowly avoided hospitalisation after working in a residential garden which contained giant hogweed. He had strimmed the plant, not knowing what it was, and the sap had gone all over his unprotected skin – fortunately missing his eyes. He then developed severe burns on his skin.
Every year we hear stories of people who are injured by Giant hogweed – but unfortunately, despite our efforts, many people remain unaware of the risk that this plant can cause. The sap can cause burns when skin is exposed to it in sunlight – potentially causing permanent scarring and even blindness.
Through our staff and mainly our CEO, Mike Clough, Invasive Weed Solutions and our sister company Japanese Knotweed Solutions have been giving free CPD presentations around the UK for several years, we are constantly giving out advice over the telephone, producing factsheets and distributing information to all of our Facebook [link] and twitter [link] followers and newsletter subscribers (link) – including our awesome pocket Weed Identifiers.
However, we are a small company, and awareness-raising is something which we do because we think it’s important, but it’s not our day-to-day business. We simply can’t reach everyone around the country.
One of our staff suggested making invasive weeds a part of the National Curriculum – one biology lesson a year might be enough to do some real good, but we don’t think it’s quite the right approach.
The Environment Agency also does some great work running their own programs and attending events like Japanese Knotweed Solutions 10th Anniversary Seminar. The internet is becoming a fantastic tool for awareness raising – making documents available through websites, and all available on mobile phones at the touch of a button.
Hopefully we’re getting there slowly but surely, and we can soon go a year without hearing another sad story of someone doing their job, walking their dog or children playing in local green spaces falling foul of Giant Hogweed.