The Big Balsam Blitz at the Wandle Valley Festival

Having proved in previous years that clearing invasive species from stretches of the Wandle really can work, this year’s Wandle Valley Festival saw the soft launch of our strategy to start pulling Himalayan balsam from the river’s headwaters… and eventually march it right out into the Thames.

Like several of our activities planned for summer 2010 as part of the WATER project, this was an educational event selected within the scope of the INTERREG IVA France (Channel) – England cross-border European cooperation programme, co-financed by the ERDF.

On Saturday, Bella linked up with the Environment Agency’s June Bell and Jo Heisse at Merton Abbey Mills to run an educational exhibit on invasive non-native species…

… while the rest of us made a start at Richmond Green, where the Wandle’s culverted headwaters enter Sutton…

… pulling almost 100 metres of balsam, and making a good start on the “Himalaya” we planned to create in Beddington Park.

On Sunday morning, we cleared another stretch at Richmond Green…

… before returning to areas of Beddington Park where we’d tried tactical clearances last year, seeding them with native grasses and flowers…

… and finally admiring the Himalayan mountain range we’d created for Sutton Council to compost!

Thanks to all our volunteers:

Saturday: Ailis, Andy, Andrew, Ann, Bev, Debbie, Edgours, Erica, Gideon, Janet, Jez, Jo, John, Rob, Sally P, Sally S, Sofija and Theo

Sunday: Ann, Bev, Erica, Helen, Jo, Joanna, John, Paul S, Paul Y, Robert, Sally, Shane and Theo

4 thoughts on “The Big Balsam Blitz at the Wandle Valley Festival

  1. Rob Denny

    Well done for making a start. It is soul destroying, tackling large areas like that. The key is to keep revisiting, every 3 weeks until the first hard frost, to ensure that none of it goes to seed. If you do that you will be very encouraged by how little is left the following year.

    I suppose there is no chance of being able to use herbicides? Spraying means that you can cover many miles each year and then follow up with hand pulling the stragglers.

    Keep going, it is worth it.



  2. Theo

    Thanks Rob – we’ve seen the impact you and the rest of your team have made on the Monnow, and have been suitably inspired!

    Herbicides may be an option at some point in the future: however our local EA team would rather we didn’t get any more chemicals near the river at this stage of its recovery, however “safe” the glyphosate is once it hits the water!


  3. Rob Denny

    Next year, on an organic farm we will trialing the effectiveness of strimming in the field on large stands. Providing you cut it below the first node (if you don’t even more stems spring up) it will not grow again but on uneven ground, with logs, stones and the usual flotsam and jetsam you find on river banks we are not sure that we can cut it sufficiently low enough.

    One thing’s for certain, we will be hiring the strimmers!

    Stop all of this year’s balsam seeding and you will be amazed and hugely encouraged at how little there is next spring. It can be done!


  4. Pingback: » Pic of the day: If Carling did balsam bashing…

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