Sunday, 30 October 2016

BBI Solutions pull the balsam

July 15th 2016

As part of our Tesco/Groundwork funded project Keep Wales Tidy have organised a series of team building activities for businesses to help us tackle the non-native invasive species Himalayan balsam. We've been tackling this plant tirelessly since 2009, involving the schools, cubs and beavers and we've had great success, but there is always more and it is very draining for our group.

As a reminder, this plant grows to 2.5m height in one year from seed and each plant when pollinated can produce 500 viable seeds. It requires a lot of water and has very shallow roots. The seed pods when ripe explode and spread seeds upto 6 metres away from the parent plant. As such it can very quickly create a monoculture of Himalayan balsam as all the plants under its canopy cannot compete against it. As such many native plants are removed from the local biodiversity which will support fewer insects and spiders and few things which feed on these. So the plant, although good for bees, causes much more harm to native biodiversity.

The first team building event happened on Friday (15th July) with 20 volunteers from BBI Solutions in Cardiff. The event was led by Monmouthshire's KWT project Officer Tom Ward-Jackson. The group were very methodical in their approach and cleared a massive area of balsam over the day. It was all hand pulled which we know is the best way of tackling this plant and we deliberately targeted an area which we normally get to late in the season and the main part we've only really tackled in the last 2 years and that was last minute slashing and scything.

It was really inspiring to see a big group have a proper go at tackling this plant, there were big piles of Himalayan balsam everywhere and it was a great start to a series of great events. The group all had a great day away from their normal environment in the labs mingling with each other, working together and having a laugh. It is exactly what a team building event is meant to be, except they have also contributed enormously to the work which our community group is trying to do. What a lovely day.

All the pictures can be viewed here:


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