Volunteer balsam bashers have invader plant on run

VOLUNTEERS were at the River Derwent in Calver in the Peak District National Park this weekend to pull up non-native Himalayan balsam from along the riverside.

The event, on Saturday was a "final push" to halt the tall, pink-flowered invader, which smothers riverside habitats, harms native plantlife and leaves bare, eroding banks when it dies down.

The plant needed to be pulled up before the seed-pods exploded and spread along the river system, so the Calver Weir Restoration Project and Peak District National Park rangers organised a Himalayan balsam "bashing" day.

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Calver Weir environmental project manager Nick Quaife said: "Balsam bashing has gone very well over the last few weeks.

"Stoney Middleton Primary School kicked off the season when they came along to Calver Marshes in June.

"Since then, I've had Dronfield Cubs, Westfield School, Brunts Barn Garden team, Chapel-en-le-Frith High School, the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers and Duke of Edinburgh Award participants, along with many members of the general public.

"As a result, large areas have now been cleared between Stoke Brook and Froggatt Old Bridge."

A spokesman for Derbyshire Wildlife Trust added: "Since 2009 the Trust has been working with the Peak District National Park Authority, the Trent Rivers Trust and local fishing clubs to remove this invasive plant. If left it grows densely, leaving no room for native wild flowers and damaging the habitat for riverside wildlife."

Further "balsam bashing" days for volunteers will be taking place this summer. For details contact the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust on 01773 881188.