A smartphone application, ‘PlantTracker', has been launched by Bristol University to help track the spread of various invasive plants, including Japanese knotweed, in the midlands.
The PlantTracker app provides information on Japanese knotweed and shows people how to identify Japanese knotweed as well as Himalayan Balsam and Floating Pennywort. These are all non-native species that are causing large problems in the UK.
After a user has identified Japanese knotweed they are invited to take a photo of it which will be geo-located by PlantTracker app and sent to researchers at Bristol University for analysis. Dave Kilbey of Bristol University said that "engaging members of the public with scientific research is an exciting and expanding area with benefits both to science and the individuals involved".
It is hoped that users will be able to accurately pinpoint exactly where Japanese knotweed is located using PlantTracker so that the situation can be assessed by experts at Bristol University.
The Rotter talks PlantTracker
The Rotter, of Wise Property Care, took the opportunity to try out PlantTracker on his smartphone and said that "it is a great idea and the app is something that will hopefully raise awareness of Japanese knotweed. Having a handy identification guide readily available on a smartphone will allow the public to identify Japanese knotweed while they are out and about and then let experts know where it is located."
Download PlantTracker for iOS and Android
The PlantTracker application is available on both the iOS App Store and the Google Play store for Android phones free of charge. The free app was developed as part of the Nature Locator project to enable members of the public take part in survey work via their smartphones.
Although PlantTracker is currently only a pilot project, users can still tag Japanese knotweed in other areas and it will be analysed by experts.