Help us save the Lymington River
4 May 2012
The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is inviting volunteers to join work parties along the Lymington River this summer to stop the spread of Himalayan balsam.
This very invasive non-native plant was introduced to Britain as an ornamental garden plant in the nineteenth century. Its colourful pink flowers were attractive to Victorian gardeners but it has ‘jumped the garden fence’ and is rapidly spreading along river banks, where it grows vigorously and threatens our native wildflowers.
Himalayan balsam has seed pods which ripen and ‘explode’ to shoot the seeds into nearby streams and rivers. The seeds are carried downstream and germinate to form new populations. Himalayan balsam can grow up to 4 metres tall, in dense colonies which elbow-out our native wildlife.
Catherine Chatters, the New Forest Non-Native Plants Officer at the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, says “Luckily Himalayan balsam has short roots and is easy to pull up. It’s very satisfying as you can really see where you’ve been and you know you are making a difference.”
Balsam-pulling can be great fun, especially on a sunny day in our beautiful countryside, in the company of like-minded people so, if you have a bit of time to spare this summer, why not give it a go?
Work parties are being held along the Lymington River and its tributary the Passford Water during May and June, starting on Monday 21 May.
If you decide to join a volunteer work party, you don’t need any previous experience, just lots of energy and enthusiasm! Bring a packed lunch and plenty to drink and, if it is a hot day, wear a sun hat and bring sun protection cream. Wear long trousers and wellingtons and bring gardening gloves if you have them, otherwise you can borrow a pair of gloves on the day.
Balsam-pulling is a great opportunity to explore hidden parts of the New Forest and to keep fit, knowing that you are helping to restore and care for some very important wildlife habitats.
“With the help of lots of volunteers we are making good progress at stopping the spread of Himalayan balsam along the Lymington River but there is a lot more work to be done to totally eradicate these highly invasive plants. We need your help to achieve this and we welcome anyone who would like to join a volunteer balsam-pull this summer” says Catherine.
For details about balsam-pulling sessions being held along the Lymington River and in other parts of the New Forest and in the Avon Valley this summer, please contact Catherine Chatters on 023 8042 4205 or e-mail: CatherineC@hwt.org.uk