Set up a community Himalayan balsam group

WCRT is battling to remove Himalayan balsam from across the region with balsam pulling starting in June and continuing throughout the summer months. Balsam is an invasive non-native annual plant which germinates in spring then grows vigorously, outcompeting native plants and reducing biodiversity on riverbanks. It flowers in June to September and produces seed pods which explode when touched, scattering seeds over a wide area. Each plant can produce up to 800 seeds which can last up to 2 years in the ground and are easily carried across the flood plain to spread to other areas in high water flows. When it dies back in winter it leaves the banks bare and susceptible to erosion which increases pollution from soil entering the rivers and flood risk. Balsam is removed by physically pulling it up – and lucky for us and all our volunteers it has easy roots to remove! This needs to be done before the seed pods grow, after which disturbing the plant can help the species spread further.

We’re looking for help from local communities to reduce Himalayan balsam. 

How to get involved

We are looking for small groups to ‘adopt a stretch’ in the Cocker catchment this summer (2022). This could be a family or community group that is willing to visit a small area regularly from June to August, pulling out the Balsam plants there. Our staff can provide training and support, and pair you with an area that suits your group’s time and ability.

If you are part of a group that would like to ‘adopt a stretch’ then please email izzie@westcumbriariverstrust.org