On a rainy and humid Saturday 20 July, 72 intrepid volunteers and leaders set to work among the bracken-clad slopes around Rydal to rid the area of an invasion of the non-native species, Himalayan balsam.
The event organised in partnership between Friends of the Lake District and South Cumbria River Trust was hailed a success.
Jayne Wilkinson, Catchment Planning and Monitoring Officer with South Cumbria Rivers Trust said, “The infestation of Himalayan balsam at Rydal is on a large scale so it is fantastic that so many people came out and joined in the fight to help us control this ‘alien’ invasive species.
“Rivers are particularly good transport systems for the seeds and by controlling the plant in the upper reaches of a catchment we can stop or reduce its spread downstream. Once it’s established, Himalayan Balsam quickly dominates, outcompeting native wildflowers and leaving soils bare and susceptible to erosion when the plants die back in winter.
“So the effort by volunteers here today, and annually across South Cumbria, is giving our native wildflowers, watercourses and everything that relies on them a better chance to thrive and flourish with life.”
The two organisations are now planning a further, smaller scale event on Wednesday 21 August to ‘catch’ the remaining plants which may have been missed this time round.
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 far rather there was no need for us to undertake this work in the first place! The Fight the Aliens Big Balsam Bash was a fine example of partnership working in the Lake District at its best.”