It was a Bash. It was a Balsam Bash!

The long bank holiday has been a busy one for the Friends of Tawd Valley. As you may have read in our previous blog, Friday saw FoTV and volunteers helping with the Skelmersdale Jubilee Celebrations. And the Saturday then saw FoTV hosting it’s monthly volunteering session down in the Valley. The activities on the agenda for the morning were the washing of the crockery that was kindly donated by the Skelmersdale Tawd Vale Lions and the second item on the agenda was Himalayan Balsam bashing.

“What is Himalayan Balsam”? I hear you ask. Balsam is an invasive non-native plant species that was introduced to private and public gardens in 1839 by the Victorians from Asia. During this period the plant managed to make its escape and spread across the UK like wildfire and it has become a very problematic weed.

“Why is it a problematic weed”? I hear you loud and clear. Balsam has many negative effects on native plant species, because balsam is very fast growing and grows very tall, it shades out native plants from natural light, killing them. Then when winter approaches and the balsam dies away, it leaves the ground bare and in turn makes the ground suspectable to easier erosion. The damage from erosion near to riverbanks and waterways can have a massive long term negative effect on fish and their habitat. It can also be a contributing factor in the increase in flooding.

So I hear you now asking your final question – “What is Balsam bashing then”? Balsam bashing it a very simple technique in trying to control and reduce the spread of this invasive species. All it basically is, is someone pulling the balsam out of the ground (it gives very, very little resistance) and snapping each of the stems at the root of the plant and leaving it in piles to decompose. This is the most easiest way to neutralise each balsam plant. And this is what FoTV and volunteers were doing on the Saturday session.

17 strong headed down Summer Street and towards the River Tawd and the newly installed MTB Trails to begin the epic summer task of fighting back the rapidly spreading green menace. After a good few hours and a massive area cleared, they all headed back to the FoTV classroom for well earned tea and cake.

If you are interested in helping the team in the massive challenge that faces them this summer or you just want to drink tea and eat cake, then please follow FoTV on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date on the next volunteer days.