On Sunday June 26th, the Woking Biodiversity group returned to White Rose Lane Nature Reserve to clear some more invasive Himalayan Balsam.
This was introduced as a garden plant in 1839, but soon escaped and became widely naturalised along riverbanks. It is fast-growing and spreads quickly, invading wet habitat at the expense of native plants. Its explosive seed pods aid its spread by sending the seeds into the river, causing further dispersal downstream. An additional challenge for native plants is pollination, as the balsam is such a good source of nectar that bees will often visit it in preference to native plants.
Armed with a brush cutter, machete and slashers, as well as pulling up balsam plants by their roots, the team made good progress in clearing more of the central area of the reserve. This was an area not tackled last year, so the balsam here was taller, with some of it already in flower. When working near the path, the team engaged with walkers passing by, explaining the work and encouraging them to get involved.
There is lots more to do, with the next session planned for Tuesday July 12th. The session will be attended by Affinity Water volunteers, but is open to all so come and join us anytime during the day. The start time is 10.00 and finish time is 15.30. You can park by the entrance to the Derry’s Field allotments (postcode GU22 9HU), then walk down the alley and take the path on the right which will lead to the wooden bridge entry to the reserve. As before, we will meet at the allotments at 10.00 or by the bridge at 10.10. Please wear long trousers and long-sleeved tops to guard against nettles and ticks. Please bring gloves and drinks. Biscuits will be available.