A Successful Himalayan Balsam Campaign for 2013

Issue date: 17th September 2013

August saw the end of a very productive Himalayan Balsam campaign season in 2013. IWA Branches from across the country worked hard to locate and remove the invasive plant in order to limit its spread and hopefully eradicate the plant from areas over time.  Eradication of this invasive species from inland waterways is important  for boaters as its vigorous growth shades out all natural vegetation in the summer, but completely dies back in the winter, leaving canal banks vulnerable to great erosion and increasing dredging requirements.

A highlight of the season was seeing how successful IWA Chiltern Branch had been last year in ridding the side ponds at Marsworth of the plant. Having caught the Himalayan Balsam at its first growth in 2012 and removed it all, the plant was not present on the volunteers’ return to Marsworth in 2013. The group moved on to remove other invasive plants, encouraging the growth of native species and a healthy natural habitat.

Other Branches had to deal with more established growth, which can take several years to eradicate as seeds can lie dormant in the soil for up to three years. The established growth posed some challenges for IWA volunteers as plants at various locations were exceptionally tall or had very large stems. IWA Nottinghamshire Branch removed the tallest plants on the River Trent at Beeston where the Himalayan Balsam stood at 12ft/4m high. IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch removed Himalayan Balsam with the thickest stems at Falling Sands, Kidderminster where the base of the plants had diameters of 4inches/10cms.

In total, nine IWA Branches tackled Himalayan Balsam with 116 volunteers working over fourteen work party days, on ten different waterways, across eight counties. Thank you to the following Branches and all the volunteers who took part in our campaign against Himalayan Balsam in 2013.

  • IWA South Wales Branch – two days on the Swansea Canal
  • IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch – five days on the Caldon Canal
  • IWA Lichfield Branch – one day on the Trent & Mersey Canal
  • IWA East Yorkshire Branch – one day on the Pocklington Canal
  • IWA Birmingham, Black County & Worcestershire Branch – one day on the Staffs & Worcester Canal
  • IWA Chiltern Branch – one day on the Grand Union Canal
  • IWA West Riding Branch – one day on the Calder & Hebble Navigation
  • IWA Lancashire & Cumbria Branch – one day on the Lancaster Canal
  • IWA Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Branch – one day on the River Trent