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Software Helps Scientists Log Alien Sightings In Dorset

Japanese knotweed

10:30am 25th September 2012

A new bit of software used by the County Council is helping the fight against harmful plants blighting the countryside.

Called Living Record, it's being used as a type of online database.

It's being used as a type tracker, so reported sightings of what's being called "alien" plants can be recorded and logged.

Once areas are identified, highway engineers move-in target patches with weedkiller to stop the dangerous plants spreading.

Alien species such as Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed and Himalayan Balsam crowd out native species and have a variety of disadvantages. Japanese Knotweed can damage hard structures such as buildings and roads, while Giant Hogweed produces toxic chemicals which can cause severe burns.

Ecologist Dr Annabel King is leading the hunt for the aliens. She said:

"Living Record uses an online map to log sightings which makes them much easier to see. Now staff can enter records via a hand-held console as soon as they see them, or online when they get back to the office and members of the public can easily join in too. I am putting on all the old records and verifying the new ones as they come in.

"Anybody who can recognise these plants can help us by visiting http://www.derc.org.uk/general/livingRecord.htm, registering and telling us where you found them."

If you don't have access to the internet you can email your sightings to Annabel at annabel.king@dorsetcc.gov.uk, including what you have seen and a description of where you found it.

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