Warning over invasive plant taking over Gloucestershire rivers as mission launched today

Himalayan Balsam plants
-Credit: (Image: Trevor Dines/PA)


Rivers in Gloucestershire are under threat from an invasive plant that is threatening the health and diversity of our riverbanks. Himalayan balsam is a non-native plant species that is taking over Gloucestershire’s rivers, outcompeting native plant species for resources such as sunlight, space and nutrients

Today, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust is encouraging residents of Gloucester and Cheltenham to pull together and tackle invasive species along the county’s waterways. Himalayan balsam has very sugary nectar which tempts bees and other pollinators away from native plants.

The native plants are then less likely to be pollinated and so produce less seed. Himalayan Balsam dies in winter and leaves riverbanks bare and vulnerable to erosion - this can reduce water quality, cause sediment to collect in fish spawning areas and can lead to an increased flood risk.

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Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT) is teaming up with Crowdorsa, who’s innovative technology means they can offer a financial reward to people who help tackle this invasive species along the River Chelt throughout June. The mission will begin today (Monday, June 3) when the plants are in bloom and easy to identify.

Residents can get involved via GWT's WilderGlos platform or as part of a volunteer community group. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s Nextdoor Nature Officer, Frances Halstead will be working with local greenspace groups in Gloucester to tackle Himalayan Balsam on their sites.

Frances will also be supporting guardians of the River Chelt and Cheltenham Borough Council to tackle balsam in Cheltenham. The mission is open to all WilderGlos users who have a smartphone.

All they need to do is download the Crowdsorsa app directly or via the WilderGlos platform to earn up to 25pence per square meter of Balsam removed. The sightings are recorded before and after eradication, and the videos are then uploaded for review.

“Once approved, players can request their reward to be transferred from the virtual wallet to their bank account," explains Toni Paju, CEO of Crowdsorsa. If you manage a GreenSpace in Gloucester and would like to join GWT’s greenspaces group, please fill out this form.

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