I am happy to say that the Himalayan Balsam Control work party at Bryn y Pys has been a huge success. This work party was timed to coincide with the flowering of the Himalayan balsam to avoid the spread of any seeds and any broken shoots will hopefully not have time to re-flower and seed due to the upcoming change of season.
We had a fantastic turnout, approximately 30 members over a three day period, it speaks absolute volumes about the attitude of our membership , some turned up and helped out even though they already had work party tickets.
Organising, running and taking part in the work party was a totally enjoyable experience, it really is good to get out in the fresh air and spend time with like minded people. If you haven’t done a work party yet i would thoroughly recommend it, there plenty to get involved with on a regular basis.
I would like to express my thanks to everyone involved for giving their time over to this project and I have even had emails from our members thanking me for giving them an opportunity to help out.
On the Monday two volunteers from the environment agencies biodiversity team from Bangor turned out to help. Phil Oliver and Bev Callahan. On the Tuesday two more E.A volunteers this time from the technical fisheries team joined us, Gethin Morris and Mathew Hazelwood. I have worked with Gethin before, surveying sections of tributaries of the Dee looking for obstructions which prevent salmon from travelling upstream to spawn, this was alongside members of the welsh river Dee trust.
Richard Lucas from the trust helped to gain the environment agencies involvement in this project. The Welsh River Dee trust as a point of interest are helping our bailiffs and volunteers gain qualifications in pesticide use for weed control by water. This will be employed in the near future to wage a mini war on Japanese knot-weed.
Volunteers from the ‘Keep Wales Tidy’ group worked with Chris Derwent the Bryn y Pys head bailiff on another part of the river. Most of the work we carried out was on the Bryn y Pys beats of the river this is the next beat up from the turn o Dee.
Wednesdays session was led by James Bann a local bailiff working on our beat near the new house.
Five Balsam facts you may not have known
1. It was introduced into the British isles in 1839 as a garden plant by 1855 it was growing in the wild.
2. Its dense canopy prevents our native species growing due to lack of light. This in turn causes problems for river banks because it prevents the growth of long lived native plant life such as grasses which bind the bank side fabric together ,this means that when balsam dies back in the autumn bare patches of earth are left behind to become victim to bank side erosion.
3. Its sugary nectar is very desirable to bees which may not seem a problem at first, it is however a huge concern as bees are bypassing our native species in preference of this invader putting our native flora at risk.
4. Each plant produces approximately 2500 seeds which are easily carried by water hence the problems on our rivers.
5. Himalayan balsam is edible when cooked!
I am proud to say that we have such a forward thinking membership, work carried out on another clubs water sounds like madness! It has paved the way for a good relationship with our neighbouring club, the environment agency, keep wales tidy and the welsh river Dee trust. It will hopefully encourage other clubs to act in a similar manner and help to reduce the amount of this invasive species on our river banks. It certainly has helped to reduce the amount of balsam seeds washing downstream onto our beats.
It has shown publicly that anglers are natural conservationists and that we do care about our environment. What its shown me personally is that we have an excellent club made up of a membership that i am very pleased to be a part of.
Once again thank you to everyone involved.