Afan Valley Balsam Bashing

Afan Valley Balsam Bashing

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales is looking for some willing volunteers to take on a foreign invader.

Himalayan balsam by Amy Lewis

Himalayan balsam by Amy Lewis

Himalayan balsam has been a growing problem in the Afan Valley, Neath Port Talbot, for the last few decades and the Wildlife Trust, along with the Local Authority, have taken up the challenge to try and stem the tide of its spread.

Himalayan balsam was introduced by gardeners during the 1830s and has spread rapidly along our waterways, smothering our native species and having a terrible impact on our wildlife.  As the plant drowns out other species it also causes flooding, when it dies back in the winter months it leaves no roots to bind river banks together allowing water courses to erode the soil.

A single plant produces enough seed to create up to a further  800 plants[1] and in a matter of a few years whole swathes of countryside can be lost to this very invasive plant.

Himalayan balsam control by Lizzie Wilberforce

Himalayan balsam control by Lizzie Wilberforce

The great thing is that stopping the spread of Himalayan balsam can be done easily by simply pulling it from the ground and hanging it in trees. The shallow roots, that cause river bank erosion, easily (and satisfyingly) pull out of the soil, stopping the plant setting seed and spreading.

If you would be interested in some therapeutic balsam bashing then please contact Rob or Rose at the Trust on 01656 724100 or at r.parry@welshwildlife.org

Notes for editors

Contact – Lyndsey Maiden l.maiden@welshwildlife.org 07799050805 or Rob Parry r.parry@welshwildlife.org

Photo for one time use only, credit Lizzie Wilberforce

Himalayan balsam, what is it?

  • Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is a non-native annual introduced to the UK in the early 19th Century.
  • It is commonly found along watercourses and in damp woodland.
  • In the Afan valley, Himalayan balsam has been rapidly encroaching over the past few decades, and is now a serious threat to the health of the river.

Why is it a problem?

  • It out-competes native plants in     ecologically sensitive areas.
  • Die-back in autumn leaves banks bare and liable to erosion.
  • Attracts pollinators away from native plants.
  • A single plant produces enough seed to create up to a further 800 plants.

 How can you help?

  • The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, along with the local authority, have taken up the   challenge to ’bash’ the balsam in the Afan Valley.
  • Stopping the spread of Himalayan balsam can be done easily by simply pulling it from the ground and hanging it in trees. The    shallow roots easily (and satisfyingly) pull out of the soil, stopping the plant setting seed and spreading.

We are looking for willing volunteers to help us take on this foreign invader. If you would like to take part in some therapeutic balsam bashing, please contact Rob or Rose at the Trust on 01656 724100 or at r.parry@welshwildlife.org

[1] http://apps.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch/profile.aspx?pid=480