Annual Himalayan balsam review

IMG_1884Over 25 balsam bashers shared a pint and supper before discussion focused on analysing the successes of the 2014 balsam pulling season and the challenges that still lie ahead in 2015. Although some great gains have been made, with balsam now reduced by over 90% in a number of tributaries including the Back Brook and the Budleigh Brook, it was recognised that much still needs to be done, with a  number of groups stating that it has been hard to maintain volunteer numbers throughout the season to assist with pulling. It was agreed at the meeting that more sophisticated mapping needs to be introduced that takes into account both presence and absence of balsam but also abundance, and the Conservation Trust agreed to collate all records and map them. The success of a range of different techniques was discussed, with the Otter Valley Association trialling carefully timed strimming (not necessarily below the lowest node of the plant) and they were optimistic about success.  I was able to report that Clinton Devon Estates would be focusing additional funds through a Himalayan baslam post in 2015 to assist the efforts of existing community  groups. The strategy remains to control balsam from the tributaries and isolated populations outside of the main valley. 

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