South Cumbria Rivers Trust (SCRT) and Friends of the Lake District have been working together to co-ordinate a ‘fight the aliens’ project.
In July huge numbers of volunteers came along to a ‘Fight the Aliens’ day to pull Himalayan Balsam, a vigorous fast growing invasive non-native species. This was supported by a number of landowners, farmers and partners including Lowther Estates, Rydal Estates, C&S Hodgson, Lake District National Park Authority and the National Trust; showing just what can be achieved when everyone works together.
A whopping 72 volunteers turned out on the day including 8 group leaders. 7 people operated strimmers, including contractors who volunteered to help strim some of the larger patches. Ruth Kirk, landscape engagement officer with Friends of the Lake District, said “the statistics from the day are pretty impressive – around 640,000 individual plants were pulled – although we would rather there was no need for us to undertake this work in the first place”.
Every plant pulled helps native wildflowers to grow and thrive, adding protection to our river banks. Yet this is just one battle and there is still much more to do. Jayne Wilkinson, our catchment planning and monitoring officer explains that “rivers are particularly good transport systems for the seeds of Himalayan Balsam, and by controlling the plant in the upper reaches of a catchment we can stop or reduce its spread downstream”.
A full report and pictures will be available on the SCRT website. A follow up session will be held on the 21st August, we will be focusing on the areas tackled previously to control any plants which were missed. If you would like to help out, please visit the Friends of the Lake District website to book.