Over 150 Volunteers Take Part in IWA’s 2014 Himalayan Balsam Campaign

Over 150 Volunteers Take Part in IWA’s 2014 Himalayan Balsam Campaign

07 August 2014

The Inland Waterways Association’s (IWA) 2014 Himalayan Balsam Campaign has been a great success with over 150 volunteers joining work parties across the country.

Over the 2014 Himalayan Balsam pulling season, 169 volunteers joined IWA Branches on twenty work parties to tackle the invasive species across ten waterways. Including time to prepare for the work parties, volunteers have given over 900 hours of their time this year to improve waterway habitats by removing this plant.

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.

This year, comments from volunteers have proved encouraging, as many have noticed a reduction in the quantity of the plant at sites that have been visited in previous years. This includes sites on the Caldon Canal, Grand Unon Canal and the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal.

The 2014 campaign has also seen a great engagement with younger volunteers, especially for IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch. Volunteers from the Branch were joined by Light Seekers Youth Group at an evening work party, trainees from the Churnet Valley Living Landscape youth engagement project at its work party with Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust, and a number of families when it hosted a Family Volunteering Day in conjunction with Support Staffordshire. It was brilliant to see volunteers ranging in age from two and a half to eighty plus all taking part.

IWA would like to thank all the volunteers that took part in the campaign this year. Thanks also to everyone who has got involved via Facebook, Twitter and email by letting the Branch Campaign Team know where Himalayan Balsam has been spotted.

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