National trade body the PCA established the Certificated Surveyor in Japanese Knotweed (CSJK) to provide a recognised standard for the invasive weed control sector and has now had now awarded 100 people with the qualification.
The successful student is consultant ecologist Peter Watson, a member of the Ecology team based in the Built and Natural Environment Division of multi-disciplinary consultancy RPS.
RPS undertakes all aspects of ecological consultancy and employs one of the largest in-house teams of professional ecologists across its network of offices.
Watson said: "The primary reason for completing the CSJK qualification was to provide clients with the confidence that we have the skillset and training to deal with Japanese knotweed robustly.
"The course was challenging and went into considerable depth, but it was a rewarding process and to become the 100th person to pass is something of a privilege."
The CSJK qualification is part of a comprehensive training programme developed by the PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group to help the property and land management sectors take control of Japanese knotweed.
The group was set up by the PCA with support from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Building Societies Association, as well as invasive weed control companies throughout the UK.
The qualification features a two-and-a-half hour written exam as well as identification and oral exams to test candidates’ knowledge of a two-module syllabus.
‘The Management of Invasive Plant Species’ covers general information on Japanese knotweed as well as the techniques required to manage invasive plant species effectively and safely such as biosecurity and waste management.
The second module, ‘Identification and Control Options for Invasive Plants: Japanese Knotweed’, examines in detail the ecology of the plant and its impacts, identification and control as well as basic information on other problematic invasive plant species.
Professor Max Wade, chairman of the PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group, said:
"The award of the CSJK qualification for the 100th time reflects its significance and a desire within the invasive weed industry to undertake professional training and development.
"To achieve the CSJK qualification, candidates must demonstrate strong technical competence and go through a rigorous process designed to fully assess their understanding and application of what they’ve learned.
"Japanese knotweed is just a plant and we’re taking all steps necessary to ‘normalise’ it so it’s viewed generally as any other type of property problem - it can be identified and treated with minimal impact by recognised experts.
"The delivery of professional training is a major step forward in that process and the CSJK programme shares the latest thinking and expertise to address the control of Japanese knotweed and give reassurance to lenders that it can be remediated."
Training is aimed at professionals in sectors including construction and development, surveying, horticulture, ecology, land remediation and the water industry.
This year's Invasive Weed Control Group’s annual conference is Entitled ‘Risk, Roots and Research’ and takes place on 22 November at the Institution of Engineering Technology (IET) Savoy Place, London.