​West Cumbria Rivers Trust say a big thank you to their summer balsam bashing volunteers

26th September 2022 - Derwent Catchment

West Cumbria Rivers Trust would like to say a huge thank you to all the wonderful volunteers who came out Balsam bashing this summer. Come rain or shine WCRT were able to rely on our local communities to get the job done, without whom it would not be possible. Across the summer season, over 1000 hours were clocked by volunteers in the Cocker, Glenderamackin and Marron catchments, with 16Ha of balsam pulled and strimmed, which is equivalent to roughly 22 football pitches! This would not have been possible without the support of the local community.

Himalayan balsam is an invasive non-native annual plant which grows vigorously over the summer months. Balsam produces 800 seeds per plant, outcompetes native plants and reduces biodiversity on riverbanks. 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.

Izzie Mullin, Invasive Species Assistant Project Officer says, “We couldn’t have achieved what we have this summer without the help of all our wonderful volunteers; every balsam plant pulled has made a difference! I would like to say a huge thanks to every single one of our volunteers who has come out tirelessly to help us this summer, especially those individuals who have been committed to balsam pulling in their local area each year. We have also been lucky enough to have the help of several community groups such as The Keswick Lions, Cockermouth Rotary Club and the Blencathra FSC, to name a few.

Balsam bashing at WCRT would not be anywhere near as successful if we didn’t have those guerrilla balsam bashers sneakily pulling up balsam on their dog walks, so thank you to everyone who’s helped this season!”