Volunteers continue fight against alien plants


Published Wednesday 25 June 2014

Volunteers are heading out into the New Forest this summer to tackle an invasive plant threatening the Forest’s native plant species.

Introduced to the UK in the 1800s, Himalayan balsam is quick growing and tolerates low light levels, meaning it can shade out and exclude native wildlife. It can spread quickly if not removed, as each plant can produce up to 800 seeds that can be shot up to seven metres by explosive seedpods.

Balsam pulls are an important and effective method of controlling the spread of this non-native plant, and involve volunteers removing these shallow-rooted plants before they flower. The pulls provide an excellent way for volunteers to get out and about with like-minded people, while helping to conserve the New Forest.

Balsam pulls in the New Forest are organised by several organisations, including the New Forest National Park Authority and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

Angela Peters, Community Wildlife Plans Project Officer, said: ‘Himalayan balsam has become terribly dominant on certain stretches of river, particularly in the New Forest.

‘As part of the project we have organised balsam pulls all along the River Blackwater, near Plaitford, taking place every other Thursday throughout the summer. Bring your lunch, wear long sleeves, and come and join us for some fun pulling Himalayan balsam.’

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s New Forest Non-Native Plants Officer, Catherine Chatters, added: ‘If you care about our countryside, enjoy being outside and have a bit of time to spare this summer, come and help us stop the spread of Himalayan balsam which is invading river banks in the New Forest.

‘Himalayan balsam grows quickly, spreads rapidly and elbows out our native wildflowers but it has short roots and is easy to pull up. Balsam-pulling is very satisfying and our friendly volunteers will make you most welcome.’

You can view a video clip of a recent balsam pulling volunteer event below:


The Community Wildlife Plans project is part of the New Forest Land Advice Service and is funded by the Sustainable Development Fund, National Park Authority, the New Forest Trust, Barker-Mill Foundation with contributions from Parish and Town councils. It is aimed at encouraging local communities to get involved with wildlife surveys and conserving important habitat in their local area.

For more information about the project or to find out how you can get involved visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/cwp.

For information on the Wildlife Trust’s balsam pulls email Catherine.Chatters@hiwwt.org.uk or telephone 07770 923315.


Notes to photo editor:

Volunteers pull Himalayan balsam on the River Blackwater near Plaitford.

Notes to editor:

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more

Media Contact:

Matt Stroud, Communications Assistant, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646650
Email: matt.stroud@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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