AS many counties recover from a bad bout of flooding, a national trade body is warning people to be wary of problem plants swept in by the waters writes James Moules.

In recent weeks, Dorset - along with other parts of the country - has been hit repeatedly by wet weather including some highly disruptive flooding.

Following this prolonged spell of poor weather, the Property Care Association (PCA) says that a number of non-native aquatic weeds and other plants such as Japanese knotweed, Giant Hogweed and Himalayan balsam have been brought to new areas by floodwater.

The PCA is asking people to report sightings of these plants to help prevent them causing problems to the environment.

Dr Peter Fitzsimons, technical manager of the PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group, said: "We have two main issues to consider. The first is that the extent of river bank erosion will be higher than normal. This will bring the roots and seeds of invasive weeds downstream in greater volumes than ever before.

"The second issue is that flooded areas are increasing, so places once free from infectivity by these ecologically damaging weeds will now be at risk. Areas that are likely to be particularly affected include any parts of the landscape not normally thought of as the flood plain in a ‘typical’ year. That includes areas perhaps seeing floods for the first time.

"The end result from both these situations is that we could see the accelerated spread of invasive weeds to areas they wouldn’t otherwise have reached, other than through deliberate soil movement."

The organisation says it would also like to see more long term work done to move such weeds from streams and rivers and their banks.

Dr Fitzsimons said: "Even allowing for more spend on flood defences to protect valuable assets, this trend is likely to continue in the future.

"As a result, it is imperative to increase focus and concentrate resources on the management of invasive non-native weeds along and within our waterways."

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