Himalayan balsam season over

The year seemed to be a particularly bad year for Himalayan balsam and although significant resources were deployed, the rate of control was disappointing in some places. Areas pulled/chemically sprayed repeatedly annually since 2013 are not yet clear. Notable successes, however, have included ensuring that balsam is kept away from the Pebblebed heaths conservation area and some significant gains have been made on the old Colaton Raleigh quarry and the Back Brook above Goosemoor. However, the species is still endemic within the River Otter floodplain and in the Budleigh and Knowle Brooks. The species is also beginning to encroach into the Otter Estuary SSSI, and although works have been done to remove it (which is problematic when in occurs reedbed), protection of this site is proving difficult. One particularly bad area is the old plantation south of White Bridge with both Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed recorded. This plantation will be felled during the winter 2015/2016 which should facilitate future management.

During 2015, 42.5 staff/contractor days from all departments were employed in clearance activities of balsam and other invasive species from across Estate land, often in partnership with other groups including the Otter Valley Association. The strategy remains driving Himalayan balsam down from the tributaries before tackling the main river valley.

Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust: (14 staff/contractor days) Effort concentrated on protecting the Pebblebed Heaths SSSI, SAC and SPA to ensure there is no spread onto the heaths from tributaries of the River Otter. Work in 2015 focused particularly on controlling and eradicating Himalayan balsam south of Hawkerland Brakes on Colaton Raleigh Common; at the site of the old quarry near the north-east corner of Colaton Raleigh Common; Back Brook, Goosemoor (near Newton poppleford) , Dotton, the Budleigh Brook (between Yettington and East Budleigh), Northmostown and a short section of the main Otter River below White Bridge. Control means have included hand pulling, strimming, mulching and chemical spraying, dependent upon the location, and involved multiple sweeps.

Forestry: (21.5 days) Effort focused on the Estate yard at Yettington, Harpford Wood, Jubilee Plantation (Harford), Bicton Arena, Baker's Brake, Higher Mallocks, Heanton (Meer valley woods) and Bere Woods, with both pulling and chemical control used.

Farms: (2.5 staff days) The main geographic focus of the Farms Department was Dalditch Farm. Due to the organic status of this farm only pulling was undertaken

Property and Land Department. A copy of the Estate’s Himalayan balsam policy, information on balsam and its control, and a reminder of legal and tenancy obligations to clear Himalayan balsam from land was sent to all tenant famers.

Other Departments (Directorate/Finance/Admin/Land and Property): 2.5 staff days

Efforts in East Devon in 2016 will continue to focus on the Back Brook and Budleigh Brook, Bicton Arena, Harpford, Dotton, Dalditch and NorthmostownBicton Arena: (2 days): The Bicton Arena team undertook two sweeps of chemical control of Bicton Arena during the summer season.

To view the Estate's policy on Himalayan basl;am, please click here

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