Classical biological control of Fallopia japonica in the United Kingdom - lessons for Europe.
The programme for the biological control of Fallopia japonica in the United Kingdom has provided some valuable insights into the practicalities of delivering a classical biological control programme against a weed in the European Union. In the absence of tailored legislation, the licensing process was complex but not prohibitive. It involved the production of a pest risk analysis (PRA; based on the EPPO template), an application through national legislation (the UK Wildlife and Countryside Act), the production of peer-reviewed publications, expert committee consideration, further commissioned peer review and public consultations prior to final Ministerial judgement, which was granted in March 2010. Although there is room for some streamlining in the process, this approach has proved to be effective and robust and should be applicable to similar programmes in Europe. This is important, because classical biological control has considerable potential for the management of F. japonica and other weed targets throughout Europe, especially those impacting habitats where chemical use is all but impossible. The lessons learned from the knotweed biocontrol programme are discussed, and current weed biocontrol activities in Europe are briefly summarised. A classical biocontrol programme needs to deliver more than just pure science, because effective communication and negotiations in the public and political arena can provide more challenges than the traditional scientific ones.