Himalayan Balsam Bash

On Saturday 22nd July, nine fantastic volunteers braved the pouring rain to help Ribble Rivers Trust in their annual battle with the Himalayan balsam growing along Wigglesworth Beck.

The ‘Balsam Bash’, as it’s known, involved pulling up the Himalayan balsam, to prevent it from setting seed and spreading further along the beck and throughout the Ribble catchment. Clearing a site like this reduces the amount that will grow at the same site in future years. It’s also really satisfying and you can really see how much you’ve done at the end of a session!

Himalayan balsam is an invasive plant species that outcompetes native plants for nutrients, space, light and pollinators (e.g. bees), and therefore reduces native biodiversity. It also has shallow roots and, as it dies back over winter, leaves river banks with little winter vegetation. Both factors increase the risk of river bank erosion, which can allow harmful amounts of soil to enter our rivers. Too much soil in rivers prevents sunlight reaching river plants and reduces the amount of oxygen available for fish and river invertebrates. Himalayan balsam therefore damages the health of rivers and the species that depend on them.

Ribble Rivers Trust, along with brilliant volunteers, have been removing balsam at Wigglesworth Beck for the past few years. The difference is noticeable, with less balsam now growing than there was a few years ago. The volunteers did a fantastic job on Saturday (as the photos show), and their efforts were a great help in controlling the balsam at this site!

The Balsam Bash was organised as a Cache In Trash Out (CITO) event – an initiative developed by Geocachers – in which they carry out a range of environmental improvements, in order to give something back to the environment. This can include litter picks, tree planting days, or even a spot of gardening. This Balsam Bash event was also open to any non-Geocachers who wished to do their bit as well and John Siddall, one of our most dedicated volunteers, came along to help and thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Geocacher Sam said afterwards:

‘After a couple of hours, we had felled a good amount of the invasive plant, and a real difference could be seen. Hopefully this might knock it back for a while and give the indigenous plants a chance to take root. This one was hard work, but worthwhile. Thanks for hosting and thanks for the biscuits.’

A MASSIVE thank you to all the volunteers who helped to bash the balsam growing along Wigglesworth Beck!

We hope to see you again at future CITO and volunteer events.