Help needed to tackle Himalayan balsam along New Forest river banks from May

Tuesday 18th April 2017

Volunteers pulling balsam along the Cadnam River

New volunteers are being sought by the New Forest Non-Native Plants Project, which is helping to stop the spread of invasive non-native plants in a series of volunteer events starting in May

Himalayan balsam © Ashley BasilIntroduced as a garden plant in the early nineteenth century, Himalayan balsam has spread rapidly and invaded the countryside, particularly along river banks, where it can form dense colonies and out-compete our native wildlife. Its seed pods ‘explode’ quite dramatically when ripe, scattering the seeds over a wide area and although it’s an annual plant, it can reach an astounding five metres in height by mid-summer. Luckily it has short roots and can be pulled up easily, so balsam-pulling can be very satisfying.

Hosted by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, the New Forest Non-Native Plants Project has been organising Himalayan balsam pulls for the past eight years along the Lymington River, the Cadnam River and the Avon Water.

Catherine Chatters, New Forest Non-Native Plants Officer, said ‘All the hard work and enthusiasm of the many people who’ve helped us has really made a difference, but there are still lots of balsam plants to be pulled’. Catherine will be leading more volunteer work parties along the Cadnam River and the Avon Water this year.

Jo Gore of the Wildlife Trust added ‘If you like being outside and have a bit of time to spare this summer, you would be very welcome to join us on a balsam pull but it’s important to wear your wellingtons as some areas are extremely wet and muddy!’ Jo will continue to lead balsam pulls on the Lymington River and its tributaries and is keen for people to help her, especially where significant areas of Himalayan balsam still need to be tackled in the Lymington area.

The volunteer work parties are part of the New Forest ‘Our Past, Our Future’ Landscape Partnership Scheme, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. They start in May and continue into the autumn and are a great opportunity to do something to improve your local environment in the company of like-minded people.

For a list of dates and locations of Himalayan balsam pulls organised by the New Forest Non-Native Plants Project this summer, please contact Catherine Chatters at or telephone 07770 923315.


Tagged with: Habitats, Hampshire, People and Nature