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08 Jun 2023 < Back

Bamboo – is it emerging from the shadows?

We’ve written before on why Japanese knotweed seems to get all the publicity, but it definitely feels as though Bamboo is emerging from the shadows of late and stepping into the limelight. 

This amazingly hardy, tall, ornamental plant exploded onto our screens in the 90s and early 00s, used in virtually every episode of garden makeover shows as a screener between neighbours. Nowadays, whenever the subject of Bamboo arises, there’s a split ‘love it or loath it’ response.

Whilst Bamboo is not listed in Schedule 9 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act, we know it is just as capable of causing the same type of disruptive impact as Japanese knotweed.

The news is citing examples

One such example was featured in the Daily Mail, highlighting a £10,000 bill for a homeowner in Cheshire, after bamboo spread from a neighbouring property. DIY treatments failed to resolve the issue, actually only intensifying the regrowth more vigorously. Excavating is often very intrusive and disruptive for homeowners and in this case, the dense, fibrous rhizomes had crawled underneath the nearby patio, resulting in two skips of waste having to be removed which works out at roughly 16 tonnes of waste soil. 

The ripple effects…

When we consider cases such as the one above and how Bamboo is an ornamental plant, planted by the property owner/tenant, what are the potential consequences? Will insurers continue to foot the bill, or will measures be implemented to stop such claims?

Unlike Japanese knotweed, Bamboo is still widely available for sale within many DIY/garden centres and nurseries and whilst they may highlight its tendency to spread, they largely over-simplify the instruction (and in this case, the need) for containment measures to help keep the plant under control.

Continuing to raise awareness

Is it now time for DIY/garden centres/nurseries to recognise what can occur when potentially invasive plants are allowed to establish themselves in less than desirable locations? At our recent webinar, which we held during invasive species week, I discussed that whilst we shouldn't demonise plants (after all they are literally our lifeline), the failure to understand the risks and implement suitable defensive strategies, will only see a rise in further claims. 

We must continue to raise awareness and share guidance and information to property valuers and homeowners, on how they can understand these risks. Not only have we seen a rise in encroachment claims under common law, but there is also a serious potential risk for rhizomes to penetrate subfloor levels of a home.

Taking a proactive approach

Creating a proactive approach towards Bamboo is a key consideration if we are to limit the upwards curve of infestation problems, damage claims and encroachment disputes. Managing Invasive Non Native Species (INNS) through education and awareness is vital and presents a more reasonable approach to the widespread scaremongering around Japanese knotweed. 

xWe already have an established INNS industry, with just short of 100 PCA approved contractors. Best practices are in principle not to dissimilar to those already established within the PCA Code of Practice for Japanese knotweed, and if we were to use a similar approach towards amenity value loss to those outlined in the new RICS Professional Standard, then a guide for a domestic risk assessment is at our fingertips. And what’s more, we already have training courses, webinars and literature available to expand on a proven skillset of managing INNS.

We have the skillset, we have the relevant industry experience, and we have the knowledge to be able to combat invasive plants. Rather than automatically labelling Bamboo as Japanese knotweed 2.0, we must continue to reassure homeowners that we are the specialists they need if their Bamboo becomes a problem plant.

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