Castleford Heritage Trust and the Canals and River Trust teamed up as part of their Castleford Riverside Stewardship Project (CRISP) to run fortnightly volunteer sessions along the riverbank in the town.
They took place every fortnight until October 1 from 10am to 1pm, and were run by Sheffield River Stewardship Company (RSC) on behalf of CRISP. Volunteers worked on the far bank of the River Aire opposite Queen’s Mill, and then worked their way upstream.
Hellen Hornby, river steward at RSC, said: “The plan was to tackle the Himalayan balsam before it flowered and set seed. Himalayan balsam is an invasive plant species that spreads and dominates our riverbanks. This prevents other native plants from growing. As there are fewer native plants there are fewer animals that can survive in these areas so the general biodiversity of an area decreases. It also contributes to increased flood risk, as nothing is present in the winter to stabilise the river bank. Himalayan balsam is an annual so if you can remove it before it sets seed then there are no new plants to grow next year. It is a simple task that can really make a difference to our local wildlife.”