Regular readers will be aware that we at Wilden Marsh have declared war on invasive Himalayan balsam. Our main weapon, a herd of ten rare breed Shetland cattle, has not yet won its first battles in the Riverside or Hoo Brook pastures, nor did we expect that it would. The cattle will regroup to attack the menace again when it arrives on the battlefield next year. Our secondary weapon, The Marsh Volunteering Group, is very short of people. However, we have devoted a good deal of our available labour resources to balsam pulling this year.
The cattle are provided by the Wyre Forest Grazing Animals Project, and managed by the Ranger Service. The Rangers work hard to keep the cattle healthy, happy, safe, and properly cared for. The cattle are visited every day, either by Rangers or their volunteers.
The difference grazing has made to the north end of the marsh is dramatic. I was able to freely move around the Riverside and Hoobrook pastures throughout this year, instead of battling with 2 to 3 metre high stands of very closely packed Himalayan balsam for 5 or 6 months as in earlier years.
The Riverside and Hoobrook pastures, and the Swamp, were grazed continuously throughout June and the first two weeks of July, before moving the Shetlands on to the Northern Corridor (https://thewildenmarshblog.com/mikes-shetland-cowpie-diary-2/).
Each year of grazing should reduce Himalayan balsam growth, but we will need to manage and control it for many years to come.