IWA's 2014 Himalayan Balsam Campaign12 June 2014
The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) is pleased to announce the start of its 2014 Himalayan Balsam Campaign.
After a successful season of tackling the invasive species in 2013, IWA is once again organising a series of work parties to remove the plant from waterways across the country. Working with the support of Canal & River Trust and local canal societies, a number of IWA branches plan to pull up the invasive plants, which can cause problems on canals and rivers.
Work parties will be spread over June and July with efforts concentrated in the weeks of 21st – 29th June and the 19th – 27th July. Having two focus weeks a month apart means both early and late growth can be tackled effectively. In addition, during these weeks IWA will be reporting on the branch work parties and launching a social media campaign to increase public awareness of the problems Himalayan Balsam can cause.
Himalayan Balsam work parties are great volunteer events for all the family as the plant is non-toxic and easy to pull-up. The full list of Himalayan Balsam work party dates can be viewed at the IWA website and all branches would welcome the support of enthusiastic volunteers. With locations across the country there are many opportunities to get involved. You could volunteer at your local work party, take a trip further afield and help stop the spread in a neighbouring area before the plant appears on your local waterway or join a group you may be passing whilst boating. If Himalayan Balsam is not a problem in your area, why not offer to help an IWA branch near by?
Volunteering on a Himalayan Balsam work party could not be easier. Participants just need to turn up in suitable clothes, including long sleeves and trousers, and footwear with plenty of enthusiasm and a packed lunch and the rest of the equipment is provided. This year, participating branches will have Himalayan Balsam Bundles to hand that include high visibility vests, a selection of gloves and Himalayan Balsam banners and leaflets. These are available thanks to two grants of £2300 each, awarded to IWA by The D'Oyly Carte Charitable Trust and The Robert Clutterbuck Charitable Trust, and the kind donation of almost £160 worth of gloves from PPE supplier Protec Direct.
Himalayan Balsam is a non-native invasive species that grows along waterway corridors. The plant grows in dense patches and crowds out native plants over the spring and summer before dying back in the winter to leave the ground bare. Where this happens along the banks of canals and rivers there is no vegetation to strengthen the integrity of the banks over the winter and they are left susceptible to erosion. This can cause navigation problems for boaters and an increase in the need to dredge as well as problems for ecosystems in the waterway. It is for all these reasons that IWA is once again running a Himalayan Balsam campaign that everyone is encouraged to participate in.
Photo: Family volunteers at a Himalayan Balsam work party on the Caldon Canal in 2013 (photo by Stuart Collins)