Volunteers thanked for braving summer heatwave to join balsam battle

Teams of volunteers have received hearty thanks for joining the battle against invasive non-native plants in the New Forest this year.

We hosted an afternoon of tea and home-made cakes on 3 December to thank volunteers and to celebrate another successful season with the New Forest Non-Native Plants Project.

The event, held at Brockenhurst Village Hall, was attended by over fifty people who have generously given their time to tackle the spread of the non-native plant called Himalayan balsam which has invaded river banks in the New Forest area.

Wildlife Trust officers Catherine Chatters and Jo Gore highlighted the huge amount of work that has been done by the 196 individual volunteers who have generously given over 2,688 hours of their time pulling up Himalayan balsam during 2018 with the New Forest Non-Native Plants Project.

Volunteers pulling Himalayan balsam in August 2018

Volunteers pulling Himalayan balsam along Avon Water © Catherine Chatters

Jo Gore, New Forest Non-Native Plants Officer, said ‘During the hot summer of 2018 our volunteers have bravely coped with the intense heat, working hard in often extremely muddy conditions, to control the Himalayan balsam’.

The volunteer work parties have involved a wide range of people including youngsters from Copythorne and Testwood Explorer Scouts.  Staff from Willmott Dixon, Ridge and Partners LLP, HSBC, Oil Spill Response Ltd, BT, Lombard, SSE, Old Mutual and BDO participated in corporate work parties.  Winchester University and Solent University staff also lent a hand.

The National Trust’s volunteers joined forces with local residents to tackle the balsam on the banks of the Cadnam River, whilst the Forestry Commission’s Voluntary Rangers helped to stop the spread of balsam growing along the Beaulieu River. The volunteers have also focussed on the Avon Water and the Lymington River and its tributaries the Passford Water and the Mill Lawn Brook.

Catherine Chatters, New Forest Non-Native Plants Officer, said ‘We are delighted by the help given by so many enthusiastic people this year and, together, we’re continuing to make a difference’.

Jo and Catherine will be leading more volunteer work parties to pull up Himalayan balsam during Summer 2019. If you would like to find out more about volunteering with the New Forest Non-Native Plants Project please email Catherine.Chatters@hiwwt.org.uk or telephone 07770 923315.

The control of Himalayan balsam is one of a number of projects funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund through the New Forest ‘Our Past, Our Future’ Landscape Partnership Scheme.

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