IWA’s Himalayan Balsam Campaign wins Award

IWA’s Himalayan Balsam Campaign wins Award

09 October 2015

IWA was last week named as winner in the 2015 Living Waterways Awards Natural Environment category. 

The judging panel chaired by Sir Christopher Rodriques CBE, judged IWA’s Himalayan Balsam Awareness and action campaign hugely successful in tackling the spread of the highly invasive plant.  The winners and runners-up were determined after a series of visits and assessments, which saw the expert judges, drawn from the environmental, engineering, architecture and regeneration sectors, visit all of the shortlisted entries to select the most inspiring and exciting waterway-based improvement projects across the UK. 

IWA’s entry focused on an Awareness Week organised by the Association in 2015 where a range of resources was created to help alert the public to the threat and problems caused by Himalayan Balsam so that its presence could be better recorded and controlled.

On receiving the award on behalf of the Association, IWA’s Campaigns Officer, Alison Smedley said "Himalayan Balsam can affect navigation (through increased dredging requirements as well as limiting places to moor), the diversity of native wild flowers and even the fish population, so it is in everybody's interests to control it where we can. This award is for every IWA branch that has held a Himalayan Balsam work party; every volunteer who has taken part; and every boater, walker or passer-by who has ever pulled up a bit of Himalayan Balsam as a result of IWA’s awareness campaign.” 

IWA’s Himalayan Balsam resources are designed to help people identify and learn more about the plant, not only so that it can be spotted and recorded but also so people can better understand the problems it causes by damaging habitats and contributing to bank erosion.  IWA has put together a fact sheet, leaflet, infographic and blog, in addition to further information. The variety of material available means there is something to help everyone whether an individual wants to find out more or a group wants something to hand out at Himalayan Balsam work parties.  Resources were distributed more widely in IWA's Root it out social media campaign (#rootout2015) in support of the Awareness Week.  

IWA believes that increasing people’s awareness of the plant and the problems it causes will lead to greater recording, less accidental spreading and more active involvement in tackling Himalayan Balsam. IWA branches across the country are fully engaged in the removal of the invasive species by holding and supporting a number of work parties, mainly taking place in June and July each year.  In 2015 IWA branches planned and supported 25 Himalayan Balsam work parties on 14 different waterways, where the public, volunteers and IWA members got involved in helping to remove Himalayan Balsam.  Over 240 volunteers took part, contributing a total of 1200 volunteer hours and clearing 17 miles of towpath and banks.  Full details for 2016 events will be available on the website soon with plans to re-seed areas with locally appropriate native plants, as well as increasing the number of locations where Himalayan balsam work parties are held . 

The Living Waterways Awards

The winners of the 2015 Living Waterways Awards were announced at an awards ceremony held last week (8 October 2015) in London.

Launched by the Canal & River Trust in January, and sponsored by Keir, CPC Civils, Fountains and Hyder Consulting, the Living Waterways Awards seek to recognise the most inspiring and exciting waterway-based improvement projects across the UK. 

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