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Henderson Beach knotweed project wraps up

After five years, the Henderson Beach knotweed removal project in Roberts Creek is completed.

After five years, the Henderson Beach knotweed removal project in Roberts Creek is completed.

Residents committed to hand-pick knotweed over the growing season every two weeks, from 2015 to 2020, to prove that eradication could be done by means other than chemical sprays.

“The realization that knotweed was spreading in our community at an exponential rate over the past decades instigated this project,” said Dianne Sanford, who was project lead, along with Dana Wilson.

“It was generally believed that the most cost-effective way to deal with this invasive plant was to stem inject or foliar spray with glyphosate. This is a questionable practice, as there is mounting evidence that glyphosate is not a human-friendly substance,” Sanford said.

The area chosen to hand-pick the knotweed was about two metres by eight metres, located just above the high tide mark of a heavily used beach access. The group’s goal was to prove that it could be removed without herbicides, staying within the parameters of the Roberts Creek Official Community Plan, which does not condone the use of chemicals for invasive plant control.

During the growing period of May to November, the knotweed was picked or cut at ground level, without disturbing the plant’s roots. The cuttings were stored away in a tarp on site, dried, and then incinerated at the end of the season. The objective was to prevent the plant from photosynthesizing.

Starting in 2015 with a flatbed truck of foliage, the project began 2020 with only two small sprigs of knotweed. Successive picks produced an additional two sprigs for that entire growing season. Two sprigs of knotweed under 30 centimetres in length were found this spring.

“We were successful in reducing to almost nothing the once-abundant knotweed plants at the Henderson Beach site,” Sanford said. “Although we can’t say that the project was 100 per cent successful within the given five-year timeline, we are certain that residents are now familiar with the threat posed by knotweed and that our local volunteers will be vigilant in removing any further sprigs that may appear in the future.”

Sanford thanked everyone who came out in support of the project.

A set of suggested protocols for starting your own neighbourhood knotweed removal project has been developed. For further information, contact Sanford at