Himalayan balsam was introduced into the UK in the 19th century and has now become one of the most widespread invasive non-native species (INNS) in the UK, causing damage to rivers and watercourses across the country. Despite it’s pretty purple flowers it spreads rapidly and out-competes native plants to reduce biodiversity. Balsam dies back in the winter to leave bare banks which are more susceptible to erosion and increases flood risk. As a consequence, it is now listed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is an offence to plant or allow this species to grow in the wild. It is common across Cumbria including the catchment of the River Cocker. INNS pose a huge threat to biodiversity across the world and if not tackled, Himalayan balsam will continue to spread. If you would like to find out more please visit https://westcumbriariverstrust.org/projects/invasive-species.
Over recent years, individuals across the community have been working alone and ‘adopting’ a patch to keep clear of Himalayan balsam. Alongside the local efforts, West Cumbria Rivers Trust (WCRT) have been running balsam pulling volunteer days to attempt to get the Himalayan Balsam under control. This year, in 2022, WCRT would like to work alongside the local community to coordinate an attack on the balsam in the Lorton area. WCRT are looking to set up a Lorton based volunteer group who meet once a month in the summer to tackle the balsam at various sites in the area.
If you would like to register your interest or would like any further information please contact Izzie on email@example.com or 07896 851572.