Hexham Rotary Help the Environment

In August we helped the Tyne Rivers Trust by destroying some of the invasive weed, Himalayan Balsam, growing next to the Tyne.


Hexham Rotary Helps the Environment

After talking to the Tyne Rivers Trust, we arranged for two small working parties help them to remove some Himalayan Balsam from the river bank. The area chosen was the SSI at Watersmeet - the junction of the North and South Tynes. Each group of six Rotarians and some partners met on the riverside to help.

The first party consisted of Brian Sanderson, Rob Hart, Ben Herdan, Peter Jewitt, Terry Robson and Jean Dumbrell - all carefully briefed on social distancing - who met on the Tuesday afternoon.

The second party set to on Wednesday morning and Andy Rigg, Andy & Ann Moore, Roger Abraham, Jim Yeomans and Andy Prior took their turn at tackling the invader.

Himalayan Balsam is an annual plant that was imported into the UK as a garden flower. It is an annual and spreads rapidly, each plant producing around 500 seeds. It stifles the natural vegetation and outgrows its competitors. It is very shallow rooted and easy to pull up but this means it is easily washed away by flood waters and this leaves bare patches of river bank that are then easily eroded.

Our two groups worked diligently for two hours and were very pleased to see their patches of HB cleared away, leaving the British grasses and plants a chance to flourish. Although not hard work, we had chosen the two warmest days in August and that, combined with the very humid weather, meant it was very warm work and we all perspired freely. We started wearing tabards for a photograph but discarded them later on because of the heat. The plant, once pulled up, was broken and piled in heaps to rot down. We were only just in time as some seed heads were already forming and, in another week, would have been spreading next years crop.

Despite the hot weather, everyone enjoyed themselves and expressed satisfaction at a job well done. it was especially satisfying to see the several areas cleared of Himalayan Balsam.

The Tyne Rivers Trust thanked us for our hard work. We hope to work with them in the future to continue our efforts to improve the local environment.

Our pictures show us hard at work.

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