West Cumbria Rivers Trust calls our for local communities to get involved with Balsam bashing
West Cumbria Rivers Trust is using Invasive Species Week (15 – 21 May 2023) to call out for local communities on the Derwent river catchment to get involved with Himalayan Balsam bashing this summer to reduce the spread of the non-native invasive species.
Himalayan Balsam is a non-native invasive annual plant which grows vigorously over the summer months, outcompeting native plants and reducing biodiversity on riverbanks. Balsam flowers from June until September and can produce up to 800 seeds per plant, growing over 2.5 metres tall, putting it in the perfect position to smother and kill all native plants on banksides. As an annual plant, balsam dies back in winter to leave bare banks, making them vulnerable to erosion. The result is a loss in land, increased sediment load and poor water quality for spawning fish.
The Trust needs volunteers to get involved pulling the plant, but also to organise community groups to ‘Adopt a patch’ in their local area and organise regular events to pull it. These regular groups can make a real difference to the spread and prevalence in their local area. The Trust can provide training and support helping set up the group and follow-on support running it.
Izzie Mullin, WCRT’s Invasive Species Project Officer, said:
“These events are lots of fun and the work is very rewarding - you can see the results of your efforts very quickly and it’s very satisfying knowing that you are helping native species chance to once again flourish. We’d also particularly like to hear from people who are keen to help organise these sorts of events in their local area - you can make a real difference in a place you live or love!”.