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Volunteers Fight the Big Balsam Battle

Enthusiastic volunteers have spent over 2,000 hours this summer to protect river banks in the New Forest from an invasion of Himalayan balsam plants.

Himalayan balsam in the New Forest
PRLog - Aug. 11, 2010 - SOUTHAMPTON, U.K. -- Enthusiastic volunteers have spent over 2,000 hours this summer to protect river banks in the New Forest from an invasion of Himalayan balsam plants.

Because of its colourful pink flowers, Himalayan balsam was introduced to Britain as an ornamental garden plant in Victorian times but it has ‘jumped the garden fence’ and is now spreading rapidly through our countryside. When ripe, its seed pods ‘explode’ to shoot out the seeds and if they fall into nearby ditches or streams they are carried downstream to start new colonies elsewhere.

Himalayan balsam is a problem in the countryside as it is incredibly invasive and can ‘elbow-out’ our native wildflowers. Luckily Himalayan balsam plants have short roots and can easily be pulled up before the seed pods develop.

Catherine Chatters, the New Forest Non-Native Plants Officer at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, is delighted that so many people have willingly given their time to stop the spread of these problem plants. “It is so encouraging that volunteers of all ages have joined forces to tackle the invasion of Himalayan balsam” says Catherine.

Forty-six keen volunteers from KPMG, a Southampton-based firm of accountants, spent an afternoon battling with the balsam along the Avon Water. Staff from HSBC Bank tackled the balsam on the Lymington River. Sparsholt College students and staff from Arco pulled up thousands of plants along the Cadnam River and the Forestry Commission’s ‘Two Trees’ conservation team spent a number of days stopping the plants spreading along the Beaulieu River. ‘A’ level students from Brockenhurst College joined in the battle on the Lymington River and the young Beavers from Burley lent a hand by pulling up balsam plants along the Mill Lawn Brook. Hampshire Conservation Volunteers, The New Forest Area Conservation Volunteers and Friends of Lepe Country Park have all willingly donated their time.

This important work will continue in 2011. If anyone is interested in getting involved next summer, please contact Catherine Chatters on 023 8042 4205 or via e-mail at catherinec@hwt.org.uk  Details of volunteer events can be found on the web page at http://www.hwt.org.uk/pages/new-forest-non-native-plants-...

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The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is a charity that works to protect wildlife and wild places. We manage over 50 wildlife reserves which are some of the most important wildlife sites in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

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Contact Email:
***@hwt.org.uk Email Verified
Source:Hampshire Wildlife Trust
Phone:01489 774400
Zip:SO32 2DP
Location:Southampton - Hampshire - United Kingdom
Industry:Environment, Non-profit
Tags:wildlife, environment, non-native plants, new forest
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