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Tackling Himalayan Balsam with the Leeds team

29/06/2023

News

The Building and Project Consultancy team left our head office on Wednesday to put their defect analysis skills to the test in Breary Marsh, spotting and removing Himalayan balsam.

We all know the chaos caused by invasive species, and we’ve often been at the forefront on telling you how to deal with it This week, however, we’ve put our money where our mouth is, and been tackling some of the stuff ourselves!

Members of our Building and Project Consultancy team in Leeds have been volunteering with other voluntary and activism groups from Leeds City Council to identify and remove Himalayan balsam from public spaces.

The group, lead by partner Ian Harrington, descended on Breary Marsh Local Nature Reserve in North Leeds – adjacent to Golden Acre Park – to provide an expert eye and a helping hand as the good weather has really gone towards the growth of the Himalayan balsam in particular.

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Himalayan balsam is an invasive species that thrives in areas such as Breary Marsh: a wet valley alder woodland, a floodplain habitat that, on top of containing significant flora and fauna, is home to the invasive species that jeopardises the Marsh’s hard-earned ecosystem.

Although providing nectar for bees and being undeniably pretty to look at, these plants are not native to the UK and threaten our native flora that are simply not as hardy as the balsam species. It is typical of Himalayan balsam to thrive in areas such as riverbanks and floodplains, which is partly to blame for its successful dispersal of seeds through aquatic transportation.

Our Building and Project Consultancy team cleared the balsam to allow other native plant species and trees, such as willow trees and birches, to develop in the area. These native plants provide a much better habitat for animals and insects to not only exist but reproduce and thrive. Stripping back the balsam, which is tall and thick when grown in small spaces, can also reduce flood risks within the area.

The team worked all day to combat the plant and managed to make a reasonable dent, but as citizens we must be vigilant to keep balsam at bay – it is listed on Schedule 9, and has been an offence to plant or propagate Himalayan Balsam since 1981

Thank you to the Friends of Breary Marsh, the Leeds Parks and Countryside Service, and all the other volunteers who made the day so worthwhile.

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