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27 July 16

Balsam Bashing near the River Wey

On Tuesday 5 July, volunteers from Worplesdon Parish Council, The Environment Agency and Affinity Water were led by Surrey Wildlife Trust RiverSearch Coordinator, Glen Skelton to combat the spread of invasive Himalayan Balsam along the banks of streams that feed into the River Wey.

Himalayan Balsam is a non-native invasive plant that spreads quickly along all watercourses. It grows in thick strands, preventing the growth of native grasses and other flora.

The battle against the Balsam took place close to Whitmoor and Rickford Commons, which are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Special Protection Areas. Whitmoor and Rickford Commons are also highly valued for their mixed age woodland and wildlife population.

On the day, the volunteers made a great effort to remove the plant, working their way through stinging nettles and mud to clear the bank along the local stream that feeds into the River Wey.

Anna Jarmolinska, Corporate Responsibility Manager at Affinity Water said: “We are committed to helping all watercourses in our area reach ‘good ecological status’ through our river restoration and habitat enhancement work. It was great to work alongside volunteers and event organisers that share this vision. Our collaborative work on the day, helped to control the spread of Himalayan Balsam, but has also given us an opportunity to work with the local community and improve the local environment”

Glen Skelton, Surrey Wildlife Trust RiverSearch Coordinator said:

“It was a great help to have Affinity Water volunteers come along and be part of this event. They did some great work tackling a dense population of Himalayan Balsam. Once a non-native species is introduced, the problem often escalates as it spreads further, due to the fast rate of growth and lack of natural predators in UK. That is why we depend on the work of our volunteers to prevent the plant from spreading further”.

For more information on the Surrey Wildlife Trust, please visit

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