Raising public awareness on Ambrosia in the Netherlands
For several years the Plant Protection Service in the Netherlands has been involved in the process of reaching an agreement on a Code of Conduct concerning maximum tolerance levels of Ambrosia seed contamination in bird feed, a well-known pathway for this Invasive Alien Species (IAS).
Consistent with this, a communication project was initiated at the national level including an Ambrosia website and the publication of an identification sheet. The later provides specific advice on how to eliminate Ambrosia for the target audiences: owners of private gardens, public greens, land managers and farmers. Communication was considered as particularly important when it had been discovered that A. artemisiifolia was producing viable seeds in the Netherlands and therefore represents a huge sanitary threat. An important part of this project was to obtain media attention through different kinds of publications adapted to the specific target audiences. Part of this media effort was an interview with a famous Dutch deejay (Ruud de Wild) at a popular National radio station, who suffers from pollen allergy himself. The audience could even win autographed gloves to remove Ambrosia plants in their own garden. This early morning prime time live interview was the start of a lot of media attention. As a result of the press release there were interviews by several journalists on National television (including 8 o'clock news) and commercial networks, radios, and newspapers, at regional and national level.
Following this media attention, hundreds of new sightings have been reported across the country. Information on management options has also been posted on websites of dozens of municipalities and health authorities.
van Denderen PD, Tamis WLM ; van Valkenburg JLCH (2010) [Risks of introduction of alien plant species, particularly from the genus Ambrosia, via seeds imported for fodder and birdseed]. Gorteria 34(4): 67–85 (in Dutch).
Information on Ambrosia published by the Plant Protection service of the Netherlands: www.ambrosiavrij.nu
Personal communication with Johan van Valkenburg ; Wiebe Lammers.