Clearing Invasives with Coca Cola Volunteers

Courtney Brain

Last Thursday a group of volunteers from the southern Coca Cola Sales Team joined our Test and Itchen INNS Project Officer for a corporate volunteer day to remove Himalayan Balsam from a stretch of the lower Itchen. Although the pink flowers are very pretty, this invasive species can negatively affect local wildlife by outcompeting native flora for light and space. This also has ramifications in the winter, when the Himalayan Balsam dies back it leaves the banks exposed and unprotected, making the riverbanks more vulnerable to erosion.

If you are local to the area, you may have spotted some of the Himalayan balsam patches in Riverside Park, and although there are many hard working groups working to remove the balsam it’s so abundant that we all need to pitch in. This hardworking group of charismatic volunteers really got stuck in and managed to clear an incredible area of roughly 1000m2 along the riverbank, making way for native vegetation to flourish. There were some very dense patches removed with some of the plants were easily over 2.5m tall.

Check out some of the photos below!