Thursday, 10 May 2012

3rd June Habitats of Howth

Time and date: Sunday 3rd June, 11:00
Meeting point: Howth DART station
Details: Declan Doogue, one of the country’s leading botanists and author of Wild Flowers of Ireland: The Habitat Guide, led a walk through selected areas of Howth Head. Howth has a rich flora and a number of plant species that are not common in Ireland. The focus was on some of the habitat types that are quite rare as well as more familiar habitats like shingle ridges, coastal cliffs and the sea shore. Despite bad weather which meant there was a small turnout, those on the walk found it very informative.

12th May Himalayan Balsam Bash

Time - 10.00 - 13.00

Site – Bushy Park

Dublin IWT Himalayan Balsam Bashing

The Dublin Branch of the IWT joined forces with Dublin City Council, Ireland’s Inland Fisheries, Dodder Angling Club and various members of the public to attempt to deal with one of Ireland’s most unwanted invasive plant species. Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is also known as Indian balsam, and Policeman’s Helmet due to the shape of the flower.

We also were honoured by a visit from the Lord Mayor, Andrew Montague and Minister of State, Fergus O’Dowd TD. The EU is currently developing a new EU Directive aimed at invasive species. Himalayan Balsam is one of Ireland’s invasive plants threatening our river ecosystems. The plant can grow up to 1.5 – 2m. It is an annual and so completely dies down in the Winter. It is a prolific seeder and the seed can last up to two years in the ground. However, unlike many other invasive species, Himalayan Balsam, can be very easily removed by young and old alike. Its shallow root system ensures that anyone can gently but firmly pull the stem and remove the plant. Large areas can be cleared and a second visit to the area in the second year will remove the plants that germinate from the soil’s seed bank.

Due to its rapid growth it can take over riverbanks forcing native species out. After it dies in the Autumn the riverbanks are left exposed and vulnerable during heavy rains. Native species would have good root systems that bind the soil on riverbanks.

It is important to either remove the pulled plants to prevent them from quickly going to seed or the pile of plants can be effectively covered blocking out any sunlight. Himalayan balsam has a high water content and rots very quickly. At the end of the day we all cleaned and disinfected our boots to prevent the spread of any seeds or diseases.  Dublin City Council treated all volunteers to freshly made sandwiches and bottles of water which were eagerly consumed!

Lord Mayor Andrew Montague leads the way

Minister Fergus O'Dowd cleans up

Look how big our pile is!

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