Help needed to combat aliens

The Himalayan balsam plant
The Himalayan balsam plant

Would-be conservationists are being encouraged to help tackle Derry’s alien invaders at a special event to be held on Saturday.

Derry City Council, in partnership with Queens University Belfast, are looking for volunteers to help tackle the invasive Himalayan balsam plant along the banks of the river Faughan.

Christine Doherty, Derry and Strabane Council’s Biodiversity Officer, explained, “Himalayan balsam is a non-native plant that was introduced to the British Isles and has spread along river banks. It competes for pollinators, such as bumblebees, with native riverbank species, which reduces the seed set in native plants.

“However, the plant dies back in autumn, leaving river banks bare of vegetation, which can lead to bank erosion and can increase siltation on fish spawning grounds”.

Catherine McGavigan, Queen’s University Belfast, added, “This plant can be controlled by hand pulling these shallow rooted species in April, before they seed and spread any further this year.”

For further information contact Catherine McGavigan on 07972171958 or email c.mcgavigan@qub.ac.uk