Himalayan balsam takes a bashing in the Churnet Valley

Over the last month, volunteer teams from The Co-operative Financial Services including Britannia, led by Rob (assistant warden), Laura and Chris (residential volunteers), headed down into the Churnet Valley to remove Himalayan balsam. 

Himalayan balsam is an invasive plant species that outcompetes our native vegetation and spreads quickly along watercourses.  As the name suggests it comes from the Himalayas and was introduced into the UK as an ornamental plant. It has spread along the canal, up into the reserve and has taken over a lot of the brook banks. Despite it being classed as an ornamental plant, I think it is pretty ugly and wonder why people would want it in their garden!

With much help from The Co-operative and Britannia employees, large swathes of Himalayan balsam on the reserve was removed by pulling it out of the ground by hand. This has cleared the way for native vegetation to return and reduces the potential for erosion along the canal and river. This work will need to be carried out for the next few summers as the seedbank can lay dormant for up to 18 months. This will mean that it is likely a lot of balsam will grow next year, requiring us to start tackling it again. After a few years we should start to eradicate it from the reserve.

The volunteer work parties are grateful to the Black Lion Pub at Consall, who provided lunch, parking and amenities for the hard-working teams. The lunches were substantial portions and provided excellent sustenance for the post-lunch session!

If you are interesting in helping us next year please get in touch as we hope to recruit more volunteers to help us in the removal of more Himalayan balsam in June of next year.