Article - The River Blog

Himalayan balsam control

Author: Jane Skilling
Categories: Uncategorised



Midsummers day and google photo memories reminded me that I was out Balsam bashing 3 years ago at Sands by the river in Holmfirth. Balsam is highly invasive to the point of strangulating the majority of native flora and fauna wherever it grows. I spent an exhilarating and rewarding 4hrs with RHC volunteers, local business people and staff from the environment agency clearing large swathes of the stuff along the river bank.

Fast forward to this year, walking my dog Maisy along this stretch it is encouraging and delightful to see native flowers and plants thriving and the [almost] complete disappearance of balsam.

Many people remain sceptical invasive species like Balsam will ever be eradicated but I see a number of benefits controlling their density and spread:

  1. It is an enjoyable and safe activity to engage everyone in, particularly children to help educate about caring and protecting the environment. All you need to do is pick and drop ideally before the seed heads develop and burst.
  2. By managing it hard at the top of a river system like the River Holme the lower catchment from Huddersfield and beyond benefits over time as less seed is dispersed by wind or water downstream
  3. It is quick and easy. You don’t need any special equipment (gloves help but not essential) and you can incorporate it into any daily walk. It doesn’t have to be a specially organised event

The bigger picture is we will start to see improvements to biodiversity as well as locking carbon up more permanently in more durable, local species.

So if you spot this stuff when your out and about along your local river bank – pick and drop! More details on

Adrian Barraclough


June 2020

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