Local communities asked to help fight Himalayan balsam

9th June 2021 - Derwent Catchment

We’re gearing up for another summer pulling the invasive plant Himalayan balsam and are asking local communities to get involved.

The non-native Himalayan balsam is an annual plant which germinates in spring then grows vigorously, outcompeting native plants and reducing biodiversity on riverbanks. It flowers in June to September then seed pods appear which explode when touched, scattering seeds over a wide area.

Balsam is removed by physically pulling it up. This needs to be done before the seed pods grow, after which disturbing the plant can help the species spread further.

We’re working to pull balsam across the region. Current funding is enabling the greatest efforts on the River Cocker upstream of Cockermouth and the River Glenderamackin upstream of Keswick. Volunteers are needed on 13 June at Mosser22 June in Cockermouth and 1 July at Loweswater. Additionally, a new, monthly, Cocker Catchment Volunteer Group that will do various conservation tasks is starting with a balsam pull on 10 June near Loweswater.

We also want community groups to get involved, learn how to pull balsam, then adopt their own stretch on a local river to help control balsam over a wider area.

Jodie Mills, Director, said: “We work as hard as possible to control invasive species, but we’re a small team with a huge area to cover. This summer we’ll be running lots of volunteer events and can support people to get up and running in pulling balsam themselves. Keep an eye on our event listings on our website! We’re always hugely grateful to all our fantastic volunteers who generously donate their time to help us do even more for West Cumbria’s rivers and lakes.”

Our work on balsam in the Cocker and Glenderamackin catchments is funded by Defra and the Water Environment Grant scheme through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The Cocker Catchment Volunteer Group is part of the Restoring the Derwent project, funded by the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, which is funded by Defra and being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.

Want to help?