As part of Fisheries Awareness Week, IFI in association with the EU Life+ CAISIE project organised a ‘Balsam Bash’ in Clashganny to remove Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) from the banks of the River Barrow. This event was reflected by others around the country in Dublin, Mayo and elsewhere. The events gave local volunteers, such as members of angler’s associations, the Irish Wildlife Trust and Tidy Towns groups, the opportunity to come together to help reinstate natural riparian ecosystems.
Himalayan balsam, native to the western Himalayas, was originally introduced as a garden plant and can now be found throughout the country. The plant negatively impacts native ecosystems by crowding out native species and leaving the river bank exposed during the winter. Fortunately its morphology and life cycle display a number of weaknesses that make balsam bashing an effective control method. The plant’s entire life cycle takes place in a single year, its shallow roots make it easy to pull, it has no thorns or bristles, can only propagate by seed and these seeds tend to germinate after one year. All of this means that continued balsam bashing can be an extremely effective control method.
This event and the others that took place over Fisheries Awareness Week, were aimed at raising awareness of the recreational opportunities afforded by our rivers and lakes and our responsibility to maintaining and improving these natural habitats. The events proved to be most successful and will be staged again in future years.