It would be difficult to miss the rafts of Himalayan Balsam invading our two communities. It was first introduced to the UK in 1839. It is now one of the most invasive and damaging plants in the UK.
Last year Wildlife Minister Huw Irranca-Davies said:
“It is essential that our native species are given the protection they need to flourish. 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity and it’s more important than ever to do all that we can to halt the loss of biodiversity. Stopping the spread of invasive non-native species makes a real difference to the survival of our own native plants,birds and animals.”
So much been said – so little been done !
To many it is an attractive plant – indeed it is effectively a garden escape. To others it is a menace, particularly colonising wet areas and woodlands. Studies have shown that it reduces species richness by 25%, either by blocking out light to smaller plants, else by being favoured above native plants by pollinating bees – a situation which could be deteriorating, given the massive drop in bee numbers. As the plant dies back in the winter, it leaves bare earth – and increases erosion particularly by river banks, or along ditches , which become more prone to flooding.
The good news is it is relatively easy to control. It is best pulled in May, before flowering.
Best practice managements suggests that all local sites, where an infestation occur need to be identified.
Then it needs landowners, the council and the general public to have a co-ordinated effort.
If you are able to help identity local sites, are a land owner with a significant infestation or are willing to help in a 2012 Balsam bash , please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on Himalayan Balsam, click HERE, or see the links on the right.
The Bolton News reports :
Sarah Peet, of the Environment Agency said: “ Invasive, non-nat ive species are threatening to wipe out native plants around the North West. Whilst Himalayan Balsam is colourful and attractive, it often becomes so prominent it can displace native plants.”