Invasive weed infestation is cleared from Wheathampstead river

Himalayan Balsam volunteers, from left: Megan Bebb, Steven Horton, Anna Jarmolinska, David Johnson, Elke Cooper and Jordon Hambidge

Himalayan Balsam volunteers, from left: Megan Bebb, Steven Horton, Anna Jarmolinska, David Johnson, Elke Cooper and Jordon Hambidge

Archant

A team of volunteers have spent a day pulling pesky Himalayan balsam from the banks of the River Lee in Wheathampstead.

The plant, which was introduced to the UK in 1839 but is now considered a weed, grows fast and tall and can be a huge problem for native fauna. Left untamed, the invasive plant, originally from the western Himalayas, will spread downstream and take over the native species’ habitat.

A variety of twee nicknames - policeman’s helmet, bobby tops and gnome’s hatstand - mask the plant’s aggresive methods of seed-dispersal. A soft touch to the pressurised pod will cause a minor explosion, scattering the seeds up to seven metres.

Due to the plant’s tendency to die back during the winter, erosion to the river banks is another unwelcome side-effect.

Anna Jarmolinska, environment and sustainability advisor at Affinity Water, said: “We were really pleased to work together with our strategic partners at Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. We are committed to reducing the impact of our operations on sensitive habitats such as chalk streams and to maintain flow in our local rivers.”

The River Lee is one of only 170 chalk streams, most of which are found in the south-east of England. Pulling the Himalayan Balsam before it blooms each summer is key to preserving the river’s special wildlife and geology.

David Johnson, from Hertfordshire Living Rivers, said: “It was great to see so many willing volunteers.

“By pulling some of this non-native invasive species from the banks of this rare chalk river, the volunteers will be helping protect the river for future generations.”

More news stories

17:00

Keen golfers got together to raise £12,000 for a local hospice this summer.

An application to build offices and a garage in Harpenden has sparked fears residents will have to sacrifice privacy and amenity.

09:00

A 12th-century church in Flamstead has received a donation to help save its leaking roof and valuable wall paintings.

Yesterday, 15:15

Police are investigating following a crash this morning between Welwyn Hatfield and Wheathampstead which has put a motorcyclist in hospital with life-threatening injuries.

CountryPhile

A few years back I was fixing a shed in our garden and had enlisted the help of my young son. We were busy moving rotten pieces of wood from the side of the shed when suddenly I felt sharp stabbing pains in my lower legs. Before I had a chance to investigate my son started screaming in pain and it took a few more seconds to realize that we were trampling on a wasps’ nest!

Digital Edition

Image
Read the The Herts Advertiser e-edition E-edition
Zoo Watch CountryPhile

Newsletter Sign Up

Herts Advertiser weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read stories

Show Job Lists

Herts Most Wanted Herts Business Awards