Help us fight off alien invaders!

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales needs your help preventing an alien invader from threatening our native plants.

Himalayan balsam is a highly invasive plant that was introduced to the UK in the early 19thCentury and has begun to spread rapidly around the country. It is commonly found along waterways and in damp woodland, with its tall fleshy stems and attractive pink flowers becoming a dominant feature in some areas and costing conservation organisations, as well as councils, vast amounts of money to control.

Himalayan balsam by Amy Lewis

Himalayan balsam by Amy Lewis

However, what it may offer aesthetically is not enough to counter the many negative effects that come with it. It forms very dense colonies, shading out native vegetation and preventing it from growing. When the plant dies back in the autumn it then leaves large areas of bare soil which are vulnerable to erosion. Himalayan balsam also attracts pollinators away from native plant species, thereby decreasing their reproductive success.

The one good thing about Himalayan balsam is that it has very shallow roots and is therefore easy to pull up. And that is where we need you! On Thursday 28th of June we will be holding a communal Himalayan balsam removal day in order to try to control the spread of this virulent plant across our Parc Slip reserve near Aberkenfig. We will be concentrating on areas where we can make the biggest impact and that are most important from a conservation point of view.

If you’d like the chance to help make a real difference to a beautiful local nature reserve, carrying out hands-on conservation work  while enjoying some (hopefully fine) fresh air then please get in touch with Vaughn Matthews (v.matthews@welshwildlife.org or 01656 724100). The more the merrier – tea, coffee, biscuits and gloves will be provided!

This project has generously been supported by the Biffa Award scheme, Biffa Award is a multi-million pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives through awarding grants to community and environmental projects.

Notes for editors:

Photos are for one time use only and photographer must be credited

For more information please contact Vaughn Matthews v.matthews@welshwildlife.org or 01656 724100

www.welshwildlife.org

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales is the largest charitable organisation working exclusively on all aspects of wildlife conservation in south and west Wales.

The Wildlife Trust works for a better future for all kinds of wildlife across south and west Wales. Our mission is to protect and improve habitats and wildlife in our local area as well as helping people to enjoy and understand their local wildlife.  Our vision is for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone.

We achieve this through:

Acquiring and managing nature reserveswe currently manage around 85 nature reserves throughout South and West Wales (including Skomer and Skokholm islands).   From ancient woodland to wetland, wildflower meadow to marsh, reed bed to heathland, they contain a rich variety of species, many extremely rare. These nature reserves form a land holding equal to approximately 4,000 acres.  Of these reserves10 lie within Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas, seven are National Nature Reserves (NNRs), 40 are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and five are Scheduled Ancient Monuments.

Acting as wildlife champions – by advising on policy and planning, campaigning on wildlife issues, and protecting wildlife beyond our reserves.  We provide habitat and species management advice directly to those managing land and we also work with key partners and local people to promote habitat enhancement and restoration.

Helping people understand, protect and celebrate their environment the Trust promotes the view that people from all sections of society should have access to wildlife and the natural world for enjoyment, learning, and well-being.  We invest in the future by helping all ages to gain a better understanding of nature. Our work with schools and our junior club, Wildlife Watch, is enjoyed by hundreds of children.