Skip to main content

Protecting native plants from Himalayan Balsam

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Biodiversity, Fingringhoe Ranges, Volunteering

The Himalayan Balsam has purple flowers and large green leaves around it
Himalayan Balsam is an invasive non-native plant that grows alongside river banks [Crown Copyright/MOD2019]
I recently worked alongside a team of volunteers from the Environment Agency to remove Himalayan Balsam alongside the Roman River that flows through Friday Woods. It is part of Fingringhoe Ranges, an important training area for service personnel based in and around Colchester. It’s also an important site of special scientific interest containing ancient woodlands and grasslands that are needed for wildlife to thrive in the area.

What is Himalayan Balsam?

Himalayan Balsam is an invasive non-native plant, that mainly grows along river banks and in damp woodland. The plant poses a big risk to the environment as it can kill other native plants by taking essential nutrients, light and space. It can also grow as high as your head and spread quickly if it isn’t removed. The damage can be huge as it can enter the river channel and block waterway, which increases the risk of flooding.

Year of Green Action (YoGA)

The Year of Green Action is a year-long drive to get more people involved in projects that improve the natural world.

6 volunteers in black jackets and trousers pictured infront of large green plants
Volunteers from DIO and the Environment Agency took part in clearing the Himalayan Balsam [Crown Copyright/MOD2019]
As part of this, I worked alongside volunteers from the Environment Agency who gave up their own time to remove the plant, which took just over two days. The area we worked on had been cleared two years ago, but the plant had already regrown, we helped to clear patches by the river to prevent the chance of seeds entering the water and spreading.

Having volunteers complete this work has helped improve the river biodiversity, saved money and made a huge difference to the Defence estate. It also meets the aims of YoGA by getting people out of the office and into the countryside and encouraging volunteering activities that help to improve the environment. This is a great example of how DIO and the Environment Agency have worked together to  protect and preserve the Defence estate.

If you would like to assist the DIO conservation group with future events, please contact the team.

Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by Nikaesh Rattan posted on

    Increased Chances of flooding can occur on river banks if the Himalayan Balsam is left to flower as it is an invasive non-native plant that grows alongside river banks.
    Great work carried out by volunteers of the Environment Agency.

  2. Comment by Gordon posted on

    You should come to the river Axe, near Axminster, absolutely swimming in the stuff, it’s everywhere ??

  3. Comment by H B posted on

    Why aren't people being prosecuted for not taking steps to eradicate it # how do we make people remove it# i spend hours keeping it out of my stretch of river but those up stream do nothing with vast areas of it which obviously floes down stream to my patch of cleared water


Leave a comment

We only ask for your email address so we know you're a real person

By submitting a comment you understand it may be published on this public website. Please read our privacy notice to see how the GOV.UK blogging platform handles your information.