One of The Friends of Bilbrook’s aims is to educate the younger members of our community in nature conservation. On Monday we hosted 8 student volunteers from Codsall Community High School who were taking part in the National Citizens Scheme. The group took part in an ongoing program of Himalayan Balsam eradication along Moat brook, helped build log piles and mulched some of our young trees with forest bark.
This invasive plant has been resident in our country for over 100 years being introduced as a decorative plant. However, it has now spread along the majority of water courses in England. It is a relative of the busy Lizzie, but reaches well over head height, and is a major weed problem, especially on riverbanks and waste land, but can also invade gardens. It grows rapidly and spreads quickly, smothering other vegetation as it goes. Each plant can produce up to 800 seeds. These are dispersed widely as the ripe seedpods shoot their seeds up to 7m (22ft) away.
The plant is spread by two principal means;
- The most widespread distribution tends to be by human means where individuals pass on seed to friends
- Once established in the catchment of a river the seeds, which can remain viable for two years, are transported further afield by water.
The plant is now widespread along the banks of the Moat Brook. The Friends of Bilbrook has spent the last 3 years removing new plants before they have a chance of reproducing. It is a very labour intensive operation but we are starting to see the results of our hard work with less plants growing this year than before. Thanks to the hard work of the NCS volunteers we removed approximately 2800 plants, an amazing achievement.
With logs generously donated by a village resident, the volunteers help create a number of wood piles. This wood will slowly rot down to create habitat and a food source for the many creatures which now live in the Jubilee Wood.
The young trees in our Jubilee Wood need as much help as they can get in order to reach full maturity and by adding a bark mulch layer around the base of the trees we are helping to control the weeds which compete with the trees for the much needed nutrients in the ground. Not only that but the mulch also prevents the ground around the base of the trees from drying out thus helping the roots spread and feeding the trees with essential water.
The volunteers spent all day with us, worked extremely hard and achieved a great deal. The Codsall pupils should be prod of what they did, they are great ambassadors for their School. Thank you, and Dom and Becky from the NCS, for a great day.