This year, as a county, it has been great to see so many different groups working on tackling the issue of Himalayan Balsam. We have had reports of a variety of groups going out to help eradicate this awful invader from our rivers.

But what is the problem with Himalayan Balsam? It looks lovely on the river banks so why should we get rid of it?

Himalayan Balsam is able to out-compete native species in ecologically sensitive areas, also being able to impede flow at times of high rainfall. This plant dies back extensively in the winter; leaving bare banks which are incredibly susceptible to erosion. Not only all of this, but it is also speculated that pollinators choose Himalayan Balsam over native species; this increases the Himalayan Balsams ability to spread, but also hinders the spread and survival of our native species.

This spring/summer we have had groups on the River Ter, Roman River, River Chelmer and more. Hundreds of hours of volunteering have gone in to this and we hope that we will see the benefits next year.

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It is important however, that we are realistic in our expectations; unfortunately, this year we have noticed how prevalent this plant continues to be in areas that we have been working on for a few years now. It is because of this that we are going to work on re-thinking our strategy of tackling this invader. We want to ensure that all of the time put in-to this work is as effective as possible, so we hope that by next year we will be able to work on having more long-term success. Preliminary discussions are leaning towards us working in areas where the plants are more sporadic; dense stands of this plant are very hard to tackle with real success.

For now, Himalayan Balsam is seeding, this means that we are no longer able to organise any work parties for this year. We are still very keen to keep on getting your records of this species as well as any other invaders that you might come across. You can submit your records via our Biological Records Centre Website, or you can get involved by becoming a river warden and submit them in your monthly report. If you would like more information on invasive species then you should visit the GB Non-native Species Secretariat Website.

If you would like any advice on tackling invasive species then please get in touch by emailing Emily Godfrey the Essex Rivers Hub Assistant This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thursday 3rd September 2015.

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