Biodiversity (inc. Tackling Invaders)

Tackling Invaders is another project born from the ‘Make It Happen!’ competition to find out what sort of projects people in New Mills would like.

It aims to tackle non-native invasive species; primarily plants which are not native to the British Isles and which are spreading rapidly, harming our native ecosystems.

The principle threat identified is from Himalayan Balsam, an annual which grows chiefly in damper places, out-competing other plants but dying back in the winter, exposing bare soil. The resulting problems include soil erosion, and a reduction in the number and types of native plants and the creatures that live on them.


Himalayan Balsam out-competing native bluebells


Transition New Mills, with the help of wildlife experts and the local councils, have developed a plan to tackle Himalayan Balsam. This basically involves:

  • developing links with other local and neighbouring community groups who may be able to assist the project either in terms of expertise or manpower;
  • educating the public about the plant and the threat
  • mapping where it exists, by encouraging people to report it using the planttracker app (download for free here) ; and
  • pulling it up in the period between germination and flowering (roughly April – early July)

See our plan here: Tackling Invaders Project Plan

There are regular formal events clearing the plant; keep your eye on the facebook or blog pages for dates. So far we have concentrated on the Torrs Park from Archie to Goytside, back up the Sett Valley, and in Mousley Bottom.

You can also Pledge to Pick a Patch (where you pledge to take responsibility to keep a specific area clear of balsam, or join in with informal ad-hoc bashes, please email us if you’re interested in this. We’d also like to hear from you if you can help in other ways.

Finally, the easiest way is to pull it when out walking, but it’s difficult to make a significant impact on an area this way, and it tends to spoil a good walk!

Here’s some advice when picking balsam:


  • Concentrate on new small patches, or on the edges of existing clumps, to limit the spread
  • Crush the stems, or else it might regrow
  • Leave in a pile out of the way of paths and walkers
  • Protect yourself; wear gloves, stout footwear and long sleeves
  • Let us know where you’ve pulled it
  • Tell your friends about it


  • Pull it when it is setting seed; this will spread the plant further
  • Pull from dense clumps of undergrowth; this may disturb nesting birds
  • Pull if you’re not sure what it is
  • Leave in the middle of paths; this can be a slip hazard
  • Put yourself at risk, especially on riverbanks

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