Friends of Rossmore Forest Park bash some Himalayan balsam
Bernie O’Hanrahan tells us how the Friends of Rossmore Park in Monaghan are learning how to manage the invasive species in their park, and are working together to identify, remove and manage these species.
The historic Rossmore Forest Park is located just 3 kilometres south of Monaghan town. The park has 6 looped walks among forests and lakes in a drumlin landscape. Recent upgrades include a playground and picnic area, a joint initiative from Coillte & Monaghan County Council. The park is very popular with runners, walkers and families and is home to the Monaghan Park Run, the Haunting of Rossmore Park Halloween event, and various other events from 10k runs to marathons.
Unfortunately, the park has a problem with invasive species including Himalayan balsam, Japanese knotweed and Rhododendron. In recent years the spread of the Himalayan balsam has been observed along pathways and the park streams. The streams form part of the headwaters of the Ulster Blackwater. Concerns regarding Himalayan balsam and bank erosion have also been identified in the cross-border Ulster Blackwater river.
According to the National Biodiversity Data Centre, threats from Himalayan balsam, Impatiens glandulifera, include competition with native plants & collapsing of river banks. To stem the spread and remove new stands of the Balsam, a call went out through the Friends of Rossmore Facebook page, inviting volunteers to participate in some Himalayan balsam ‘bashing’ on Saturday mornings. It is relatively easy to remove by pulling the entire plant. Dermot McNally of Transition Monaghan also carried the story of Himalayan balsam in the Sustainability Matters column of the Northern Standard.
There is a steady increase in volunteers learning to recognise the plant, to pull the entire plant and to pile in situ. Some great work has been done and park users are adopting parts of the park to look after. We have learned that repeat visits to treated areas are needed to get the best results. So, it’s map, remove, monitor and follow up with some aftercare. Susan and her team of volunteers from the National Learning Network have adopted the Nature Trail as part of their Community Project for the summer months. The ambition of this park users volunteer group for 2019, is to limit the spread, control the lighter growths and reduce the larger stands of Himalayan balsam. The first flowers only appeared in week 3 of June, so that gave a good head start in 2019 ahead of flowering and seed production this summer. Thanks to all the volunteers to date.