Working with The Conservation Volunteers, an environmentally focused charity based in Kirkstall, volunteers in the Wyke Beck Valley have been helping resident’s vegetation to grow by weeding out an invasive species known as Himalayan Balsam.
Wyke Beck Valley Pride aims to enhance the ‘green corridor’ that runs all the way from Roundhay Park to Rothwell Country Park through Gipton, Seacroft, Killingbeck, Primrose Valley and Halton Moor.
Nicknames include Pink Peril and Indian Touch-me-not and go some way to describing the voracious nature of this cleverly evolved plant that can grow up to 2 metres in height. Himalayan Balsam can expel up to 800 seeds at a time from exploding seed pods which scatter their contents up to seven metres and also produces copious amounts of nectar which our native bees prefer, meaning that surrounding plants are less likely to be pollinated. After outcompeting local plants the Balsam dies back in winter which can lead to erosion of its favourite growing spots; river banks and wetlands.
Due to these natural super powers it is important to eliminate the wild flower from the ground, roots and all, before it has the chance to spring into action. Therefore, each Friday for the last month, local residents have waged war on the weed and removed thousands of specimens from around the beck at Arthur’s Rein and Halton Moor.
‘Balsam bashing’ is the current task of the Wyke Beck Conservation Volunteers, set up as part of the Wyke Beck Valley Pride project funded by Natural England. Beginning just over a year ago, the group has a consistent and enthusiastic volunteer membership and has vastly improved green spaces for both the local people and resident flora and fauna too.
Regular Wyke Beck volunteer Daniel Wake said, ‘It feels good to be involved in pulling out the invasive species as it helps to restore the natural balance of biodiversity along the Wyke Beck’.
Working through all seasons, the team have improved footpaths and access to the Wyke Beck Valley, coppiced woodland, cleaned litter and debris from the sites, cleared scrub and managed wetland.
The group always welcomes new members and encourages you to join them every Friday at the ASDA car park in Killingbeck at 10am opposite McDonalds, where The Conservation Volunteers minibus will arrive to pick you up. No experience is necessary, just wear old clothes and bring a packed lunch.
For more details call The Conservation Volunteers on 0113 274 2335 or email Andrew Tiffany on firstname.lastname@example.org