Cubs, Guides and Explorer Scouts join forces to tackle Himalayan balsam

Friday 7th July 2017

Calmore Guides pulling balsam on the Cadnam River

Cubs, Guides and Explorer Scouts from Ashurst, Colbury, Calmore, Brockenhurst, Copythorne and Wellow have joined forces to help stop the spread of Himalayan balsam along the Cadnam River

The youngsters spent three evenings in June and July at Ower, pulling up hundreds of Himalayan balsam plants which have invaded the banks of the Cadnam River, through the New Forest Non-Native Plants Project.

Introduced to the UK by the Victorians as an ornamental garden plant, Himalayan balsam has spread rapidly along riverbanks, out-competing our native wildlife. Its seed-pods ‘explode’ when ripe and when the seeds fall into the river they are carried downstream to form large colonies of plants, sometimes reaching an amazing four or five metres in height.

Catherine Chatters, the New Forest Non-Native Plants Officer at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, is co-ordinating control of Himalayan balsam on behalf of landowners. She was delighted to have help from the 3rd New Forest North (Ashurst and Colbury) Cubs, Calmore Guides, Brokenhurst Guides, the Magellan Explorer Scouts from Copythorne and the Apache Explorer Scouts from Wellow. Catherine said “the Cubs, Guides and Explorer Scouts worked really enthusiastically and enjoyed piling up the Himalayan balsam into satisfyingly large heaps, whilst making a difference to their local environment”.

Pauline Homans, leader of the Ashurst and Colbury Cub Pack said “Himalayan balsam-pulling is great for the children to get involved in as the plants are easy to recognise and fun to pull up”.

The control of Himalayan balsam along the Cadnam River is part of ‘Our Past, Our Future’, a Landscape Partnership Project which, supported by Heritage Lottery Funding, will restore lost habitats, develop Forest skills and inspire a new generation to champion and care for the New Forest.

The Wildlife Trust is organising volunteer work parties to pull up Himalayan balsam along river banks in the New Forest area during Summer 2017. If you would like to help, or would like to find out more, please contact Catherine on 07770 923315 or e-mail


Tagged with: Hampshire, People and Nature