account arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right closecontact-us emailFacebookheart instagramjoin linkedin phonepinterestplaysearch twitteryoutube

A step by step guide to planning a work party

Himalayan Balsam is an invasive non-native species that crowds out other plants. Himalayan balsam pulls up fairly easily and is completely non-toxic. So if you have some on a waterway near you, why not organise a Himalayan Balsam work party? Below is a step-by-step guide to help you start planning as well as some useful resources to help you on the day.

The steps

  1. Permission – Contact the relevant landowner and/or navigation authority for permission.
  2. On Canal & River Trust waterways contact your local Volunteer Co-ordinator for advice and assistance.
  3. Agree a date, start time and meeting point with everyone. (The best time of year for pulling up Himalayan Balsam is during June and July).
  4. Publicise the event – Put posters in the locality, tell your local press, invite local groups to join in.
  5. Agree method to be used – if there are large expanses of just Himalayan Balsam then it may be useful to slash, strim or cut it below the lowest node. Where it is growing in amongst other native plants, pulling it up is the best way. Any control should be undertaken before the plant flowers and sets seed, usually in July.
  6. Agree locations (off the main towpath) where the pulled up plants will be left to rot (or, any alternative method agreed with the landowner, eg putting it all into empty builders sacks to rot down).
  7. Risk assess – Look at the Himalayan Balsam pulling work party risk assessment  and adapt it taking into account specific considerations for your site.
  8. On the Day – encourage volunteers to turn up to spend a couple of hours in the fresh air by their local waterway. Encourage families to come along – children are welcome so long as they are supervised by a parent or other nominated adult.
  9. Tell everyone about it – including the local press, and don’t forget to send photos and a write up to the IWA Branch Campaign Team so that it can be included in a round up of Himalayan Balsam work parties on the waterways this summer.

Things to be aware of

 If the seeds have already developed then please don’t pull the Himalayan balsam as there is no benefit and you could spread it to new locations,

  • Himalayan balsam is non-toxic, but it is still advisable to wash your hands after carrying out this activity (and before eating) due to animal-carried diseases such as Weils Disease,
  • Be aware of the water’s edge or any steep drops and leave any plants that you can’t safely reach,
  • Don’t trespass onto private land beyond the towpath or bank

You should also record the presence of Himalayan Balsam on a national database. This is easily done online via PlantTracker, a recording system created in partnership with the University of Bristol, Environment Agency and the Centre for Hydrology & Ecology, which can also be downloaded as an App, or via the Non-native Species Secretariat website.  You should also report any locations of Himalayan Balsam to your local waterway office.

Don’t Spread It

Ensure you don’t accidentally carry the seeds to a new area (eg on the bottom of your shoes or on the deck of a boat), and don’t place balsam flowers or stems on areas where it was not previously present.

Other Invasive Species