IRD Duhallow and Inland Fisheries Ireland to eradicate invasive Himalayan Balsam from River Allow
An EU-funded project to eradicate an invasive plant which is eroding land and putting important fish habitats in a north Cork river at risk was launched today by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan.
Himalayan Balsam, which was introduced from India as an ornamental plant for its attractive pink flowers, has spread from gardens to roadsides and is now causing serious problems on river banks and habitats throughout Ireland including in north Cork.
Local development group IRD Duhallow, in conjunction with Inland Fisheries Ireland, has begun a €1 million EU-backed project, Duhalllow Life, to eradicate the invasive plant from the banks of the river Allow which flows from Freemount in north Cork through Kanturk to Banteer where it enters the Munster Blackwater.
Project scientist Dr Fran Igoe explained that Himalayan Balsam, sometimes referred to as Policeman’s Helmet, out competes native vegetation on river banks where it establishes dense stands. When it dies back in the autumn it leaves the banks bare and exposed to floods. The banks can become eroded during floods and large amounts of silt may be washed into the river.
This silt poses a serious threat to salmon eggs in spawning beds when it is washed down river in winter floods while it also impacts on the capacity of the river to support fresh water mussels which can live to more than 100 years of age in the right conditions.
Chairman of the Duhallow group Michael Twohig expressed confidence that the Duhalllow Life project, which will involve halting river bank erosion and controlling river weed, will completely remove the plant from the banks of the Allow within its four-year time frame.
“We plan to work with our communities, schools, farmers, angling clubs and environmental interests on this project. We have long believed our natural resources, if properly developed with an eye to conservation, hold the best prospect of economic revival for Duhallow.”
Rivers have the potential to generate tourism based on angling, walking and wildlife appreciation, he added.