Whilst we were bashing balsam in the rain and sunshine during BEACON’s first balsam bash of the season, also in Carrs Park in Wilmslow, Friends of the Carrs hosted a family dog show. The event was a hit, even when the rains came, and helped raise awareness of the local park and the beautiful natural resource people have on their doorstep. To read more about this brilliant event please click here.
On a rather wet Sunday 22nd May, BEACON, Friends of the Carrs and the Bollin Valley Partnership held the first balsam bash of the season, with five volunteers raring to get stuck in! The Himalayan Balsam on the Carrs has been controlled in an ongoing programme of works for over five years, and this is definitely having a positive effect on the area.
We all met on the Carrs at 2pm, just as the heavens opened! Not to be detered we headed along the banks of the River Bollin to an area just past the first footbridge where we knew there was a lot of balsam in need of bashing. There were comments from the volunteers and organisers that it had been difficult to find much balsam to bash this year and so it must be working!
We found lots of untouched balsam which was also unfortunately mingled in with some young Japanese Knotweed shoots that have been treated in previous years but obviously need treating again.
The four sisters that volunteered really enjoyed pulling up the plants and stomping on them to make sure they were definitely dead! Dad seemed to enjoy getting stuck in too although we all ended up a bit soggy! This one might be a contender for the wettest balsam bash at the Volunteer Thank You awards next year.
For more information on upcoming balsam bashes please visit our events page here.
On a lovely sunny Tuesday morning the River Bollin at Hale was surveyed. It is very important to keep monitoring areas that have been treated to determine how effective the treatment was, and work has been ongoing here for the past three years.
The area surveyed was from Hale Waste Water Treatment Works to Hale Golf Club; a 5km stretch of river well known for its forests of Giant Hogweed and Giant Japanese Knotweed. This area adjoins the piece of land Friends of Bowdon Bollin manage, so controlling invasive species here is beneficial to the work they are doing.
A survey was first done by a volunteer in 2013, with invasive species control happening right away once we knew the severity of the problem. BEACON liaised with the landowners, United Utilities, the National Trust Dunham Massey and our own trained volunteers to plan out how we could all work together to control these invasive nasties.
Most notable was a crop of Giant Japanese Knotweed along the riverbank in 2013. This covered over 100m2 and was taking over almost entirely. Now it has been reduced to a small bunch of dead stems and a few small live shoots that will be treated this year. Unfortunately the Himalayan Balsam has taken the opportunity to seed on the newly open ground, but this is much easier to deal with.
The fence line for Hale Waste Water Treatment Works and field margins were hugely affected by Giant Hogweed and Japanese Knotweed. The plant populations here have not been entirely eradicated, but hugely reduced in number thanks to everyone’s efforts.
The greatest success story BEACON has had so far is the transformation of a small piece of woodland opposite Hale Golf Club, which three years ago was full of Himalayan Balsam. Student volunteers from Manchester University, exchange students from Singapore, Hale Golf Club Volunteers and BEACON Volunteers have all pitched in over the years to balsam bash here and the results speak for themselves.
So well done all the volunteers, landowners, contractors and partner organisations that have helped make this a real success story, and BEACON aims to carry on this good work for the 2016 season.
So, today is my last day in the paid BEACON Project Officer post. This post has ended due to a lack of funding, something that has troubled the BEACON Project for some time now.
Whilst it has been very sad to be closing down the project, it has been great to go over old files and photos and remember all the fantastic work that has been done as part of this project. Volunteers have been integral to this work and I am hugely grateful for all the input everyone has had over the years, be it with invasive species or diffuse water pollution. There has been over 7,000 volunteer hours contributed during the project lifetime, and over 2,400 volunteers involved ranging from 3 years to 90 years old. Without all your hard work the BEACON Project would not be as well-known and well-regarded as it is today.
I will be volunteering one day a week to maintain the project’s presence going as there are options to resume BEACON that will be explored fully in June. So, you can still get hold of me here or email firstname.lastname@example.org
There are also lots of resources now available on this website which may help answer any questions you may have, and local groups are still hosting balsam bashing events too, the details of which can also be found in the events section of the BEACON website here.
Thank you everyone for all you have contributed to caring for our little patch of the Bollin, and I look forward to what the future holds for BEACON.
All the very best.
To download the newsletter please click here BEACON Newsletter – 7
If you would like any more information about any of the articles in the newsletter please contact us here
The first event of the New Year was a re-training workshop held for volunteers who had previously undergone training to survey waterbodies for rural diffuse pollution, but wanted to brush up on their skills before walking the rivers.
Even though it was a very cold and wet day, the rain held off long enough (although the hail didn’t) for us to walk a short section of the Birkin Brook at Bowdon, and practise identifying invasive species (which look very different in winter), areas of erosion, pipes, land drains and sewage outlets along the way.
It is hoped that we will have the results of the surveys collated by the end of March, and we can then use this information to create educational resources and pinpoint areas where there are major pollution issues. In these areas we would like to work with landowners to try to solve these issues to protect native species and improve the health of our rivers for us and for wildlife.
The Friends of the Carrs are a very busy and active group, caring for the River Bollin and Parkland in Wilmslow that provides a haven for peace and recreation in the heart of the town.
The Friends of the Carrs have recently produced their Autumn newsletter, which gives updates on things that have happened on the Carrs in previous months, and events and activities that the group have planned for the future. To read this newsletter you can download it here: Carrs newsletter Autumn 2014.
As the Friends of the Carrs manage a long stretch of the River Bollin, they also have to control invasive species and as such are active members of BEACON, and hold community balsam bashes every year.
As Giant Hogweed can be so dangerous to people, causing rashes and burns when it comes into contact with skin, BEACON decided to prioritise this species as one they would tackle first. You can find out more about Giant Hogweed here. It is also easier to prioritise areas for control work as Giant Hogweed doesn’t occur throughout the whole Bollin, catchment, the first record of hogweed is near Manchester Airport, and the infestation gets increasingly worse as your head downstream.
The first area to be tackled on a grand scale was Bankhall Lane in Hale as this was the first area where the Giant Hogweed started to get very dense. Even to be able to treat a relativley short stretch of the river Bollin took a lot of co-ordination and discussion with landowners and private companies such as United Utilities and Network Rail. The map below shows you who treated which areas of the river Bollin. BEACON was able to contribute towards funding contractors to undertake work where the hogweed was very dense or inaccessible. Farmers and landowners treated Giant Hogweed that was in their fields and ditches.
The results of this work have been amazing! In just one season the density of the Giant Hogweed at Bankhall Lane has been dramatically reduced thanks to landowners, contractors and private companies working together and treating the right species at the right time. The photos below show the before and after effects of the work.
This is the pipe line from the sewage works to the river before work started in September 2013, and after work has been completed in September 2014. This work was undertaken by United Utilities and their contractors.
These are the field margins adjacent to the River Bollin at Bankhall Lane. The landowner and contractors have undertaken work here to bring the Giant Hogweed under control. The difference between the two pictures is fantastic!
Thank you to everyone who worked really hard to control the Giant Hogweed here, and we look forward to working together again next year to finish off this invasive nasty once and for all!