Essex Rivers Hub

Himalayan Balsam Project

This is a partnership project. This project is supported by Essex Wildlife Trust, Local Wildlife Sites, Water for Wildlife and Biological Records Officers and Essex County Council and Colchester Natural History Society. Essex Water for Wildlife has been awarded £5000 as catchment host for this river and is a key partner in this LAG.

This is a landscape scale project focused on the Roman River Valley aimed at the long term improvement of water quality and habitat at a catchment scale, creating a robust functioning network of good quality priority riparian habitat providing resilience and connectivity for the benefit of both wildlife and people in response to future pressures and uncertainties in available services, resources and climate change.

Scope of the project

The full scope of the project encompasses 15km of the Roman River from Copford upstream (TL934241) to the confluence with the River Colne, Wivenhoe (TM035212).

This project will be delivered in a series of phases as control and eradication of invasive species is recognised to require long term consistent management in order to be effective. This project has been funded by Defra and builds on the 2011-2012 Defra funded walk over survey of the entire 15km reach of the Roman River which identified existing stands of Himalayan Balsam and involved establishing contact with relevant landowners.

This information provided an up to date baseline of the current status of invasive species within this catchment. This second phase is an evidence based strategic approach to removal, control and final eradication of this species at a catchment scale.

The survey showed a distinct 3.2km stretch of the river where Himalayan Balsam occurs. It is therefore believed that eradication of this species at a catchment scale is an achievable outcome if consistent effort and approach are applied over a number of years.

It is envisaged that this is a 5 year project with funding provided for the initial engagement, promotional resources and practical element over the period 2012-2013. Monitoring, reporting and subsequent removal of any residual vegetation will be over seen by the Essex Biodiversity Project and Essex Wildlife Trust with priorities and actions agreed by the Essex Wildlife Trust Living Landscape
Indicator Team as contribution in kind for the life time of this project.

The second phase of this project has been delivered through applying the following strategic approach:

Methodology

Engagement & Training;

EBP, EWT & BRIE held an Invasive Species Information Evening for interested volunteers and landowners to look at the implications of invasive species on riparian ecosystems, their identification and removal and the establishment of a clear reporting system.
EWT Outreach Officers delivered 3 x education & practical conservation tasks with Phillip Morant Secondary School and Technical College who have adopted the Roman River Valley as their local Living Landscape Area and Layer De Le Haye Primary School.

Survey & Monitoring;

The appropriate landowners were consulted prior to any fieldwork taking place and necessary risk assessments completed.

A repeat full walk over of the river was carried out in June and July commencing upstream and walking downstream to revisit the sites identified from the 2011 survey. All stands identified were mapped, GPS referenced and there extent and bankside locality recorded (i.e. North Bank, 3 metre stand). Additional information was also recorded which was thought relevant to Water Framework Directive Objectives and future catchment scale restoration such as poaching and sedimentation if different from the original 2011 survey. All data was then collated, digitised and analysed to identify a rolling programme of strategic species control and eradication and a baseline against which all future work can be monitored to measure and evaluate long term project success and improvement in water quality and ecological status.

Practical Action;

Using the information provided by the surveys supervised teams of volunteers with willing landowners carried out 10 days of intensive manual hand pulling of Himalayan Balsam from late June to mid-August in addition to the 3 practical education days carried out. Work commenced upstream with groups working downstream to the final recorded site with repeat visits to ensure all regrowth was also removed. All groups were given a Health and Safety briefing prior to commencing works, PPE was provided. All plant material was piled up on site and monitored for regrowth.

Action 2013

Repeat surveys, training and removal of Himalayan Balsam are planned for 2013.

Update for 2014

A Survey in June 2014 revealed some bad news for this project. Some of the areas we had previously cleared of Himalayan Balsam back in 2012 had grown back with plants in some cases over 8ft tall. It was now essential to pull up the plants again as quickly as possible so that they did not have a chance to set seed and spread furthr. Several days worth of hard work later, the area id now clear of Himalayan Balsam again and the native plants that were being choked have now got space to grow. Pictures of before during and after the work carried out this year can bee seen in the photos on the right.

Himalayan Balsam

RBD/catchment/river/tributary

Roman River

WFD water body status

Moderate

WFD overall status objective

Good ecological status by 2027

Benefiting species and/or habitats

Habitats: floodplain grazing marsh, fen and lowland wet meadows. Species: water vole, otter, brown trout, eel and locally rare populations of beautiful demoiselle.

Total area covered by project

17km of river corridor habitat

Total area surveyed

15km

Website key stakeholders:

Environment Agency logo      Essex Wildlife Trust logo            Essex Biodiversity Project logo

Design by LTD Design Consultants and build by Garganey Consulting based on an original concept by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust