Levels of invasive plant are reduced at reserve thanks to work of volunteers

Jackson's-Coppice-&-Marsh

The hard work of a team of volunteers from Staffordshire Wildlife Trust has helped to control the levels of an aggressive non-native invasive plant to help it stop spreading along a river bank.

Thanks to the efforts of the volunteers after years of work, the Trust has seen much less Himalayan balsam at its Jackson’s Coppice and Marsh nature reserve, near Eccleshall.

The work will continue this year when volunteers will spend time pulling up more of the annual plant, which had invaded the banks of the River Sow by the reserve.

Himalayan balsam has become well established across much of the UK. It grows quickly and spreads rapidly into large stands that exclude most other plants.

Himalayan balsam spreads rapidly along riverbanks and outcompetes native wildlife. Its seed-pods ‘explode’ when ripe and when the seeds fall into the river they are carried downstream to form large colonies of plants. It can reach levels of 2.5 metres in height.

It is one of the most problematic weeds in the UK which tolerates low light levels and also shades out other vegetation, and its presence can destroy habitats by killing off other plants.

Jeff Sim, Land Management Team Co-Ordinator for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said:

“Himalayan balsam has been reported to reduce native plant diversity by approximately two thirds.
So it is something which needs successful control or eradication of on a site like Jackson’s Coppice and Marsh, which is renowned for its diversity of wildflowers.
Thanks to the extremely hard work of our volunteers over the years who have helped us to carry out this week, we have seen much less of it this year.”

For more information on Jackson’s Coppice and Marsh, visit http://www.staffs-wildlife.org.uk/reserves/jacksons-coppice-marsh