HIMALAYAN BALSAM PULL

HIMALAYAN BALSAM CONTROL IN 2017

MOSS VALLEY BALSAM NEWS

Although Sheffield Conservation Volunteers had very kindly set aside five balsam pulling days on the Moss Valley for 2017, unfortunately funding was not available and their work in the Moss Valley was unable to go ahead this year.

However, Don Catchment Rivers Trust were able to provide support for a balsam pull in the Never Fear Dam area of the Moss Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest. After permissions to work on the land were granted by the landowner and Natural England, three members of DCRT accompanied by three members of Moss Valley Wildlife Group pulled what Himalayan Balsam was growing in that area on 21 June 2017. Many thanks to DCRT for their input and help.

Unfortunately most of those members of MVWG who have been involved in pulling Himalayan Balsam over the last few years are now in their mid to late seventies. Some of these volunteers have suffered from serious medical conditions lately and it is no longer safe for them to work in difficult locations.

This means that Himalayan Balsam is no longer being controlled in the Moss Valley, and growth in farmland areas away from the Moss Valley SSSI will eventually spread back into the Moss Valley SSSI.

On a positive note, although there has been little Himalayan Balsam 'weeding' this summer, it is hoped that the Don Catchment Rivers Trust may be able to help with Himalayan Balsam Pulling in the Moss Valley, perhaps in 2018, if their grant application for a wide ranging project in the River Rother Catchment area is successful.

Celia Jackson

HIMALAYAN BALSAM CONTROL IN 2016

Sheffield Conservation Volunteers and Sheffield Landscape Trust have kindly taken over this task and booked dates with landowners in Moss Valley in 2016, once again concentrating on the key areas where this invasive plant threatens natural habitat, streams etc. There is absolutely no doubt that the Moss Valley's natural habitat is much healthier as result of this work, and thanks are due to all involved.

HIMALAYAN BALSAM PULL 2015

MOSS VALLEY WILDLIFE GROUP

BALSAM PULL REPORT FOR THE MOSS VALLEY 2015

Grateful thanks must be extended to Eckington Parish Council for awarding a generous grant of £300 to Sheffield Conservation Volunteers in order to provide five sessions of Himalayan Balsam pulling in the Derbyshire section of Moss Valley during the Spring and Summer of 2015. Thanks must also be expressed to landowners and tenant farmers who gave permission to enter onto their land, and to Natural England for giving their permission to enter onto the lower Moss Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest. Sincere thanks must be given to all the hard work undertaken by members of Sheffield Conservation Volunteers without whom the areas adjacent to the Moss Brook from the Geer Lane area downstream to Eckington within the Moss Valley would be completely choked with Himalayan Balsam.

Several sites in the Eckington area and one in the Geer Lane area of the Moss Valley were pulled jointly by members of Sheffield Conservation Volunteers and Moss Valley Wildlife Group on five Sundays from May to August.

Sheffield Conservation Volunteer totals for 2015:

Number of pulling days 5

Actual pulling hours 260

Persons attending 52

Amount of Himalayan Balsam pulled 242 wet tons

Many thanks must also be extended to Sheffield Landscape Trust staff and volunteers, who along with members of MVWG, pulled at two sites in the Plumbley, Sheffield, area of the valley on 7 July 2015. Twelve persons attended giving a total of 72 pulling hours on this occasion. Growth in one location was unexpectedly heavy, and although fully cleared on this visit, further growth necessitated MVWG members visiting this area on several times during the Summer.

Special thanks must be given to all those MVWG members who managed to come along, most of whom had to contend with quite severe physical problems. However, as usual, a magnificent effort was made by all.

During the period from July to September several members of MVWG attended regular pulling sessions several times a week, sometimes targeting specific sites and on other occasions walking the length of the lower Moss Valley SSSI from Ford to Eckington, pulling whatever balsam could be seen. Some of this work involved river walking in different locations. Several years of constant pulling resulted in some sites having low growth involving an equivalent of a couple of full one ton rubble bags. Yet in other areas that had been previously pulled, an unusually large amount of growth was present amounting to several wet tons being pulled on these occasions. It could only be assumed that due to very low water levels during the Summer, balsam seed that had remained submerged under water for several years suddenly “sprouted” growing to an enormous height within a few weeks. As usual all this growth was cleared. Unfortunately due to illness, pulling generally had to cease in the lower end of the Moss Valley at the beginning of September rather than at the end of that month, although two MVWG members did do a last “weed” on some of the lower Moss Valley SSSI alongside the Moss Brook late in September. These two volunteers commented that although the exact sites had been pulled several times during the Summer, late growth was still appearing in exactly the same sites as previously. Even with this late effort, some locations within the lower Moss Valley SSSI that would have been completely cleared might still contain some later balsam growth this year. The same two MVWG stalwarts continued to pull on the roadside in the Troway area at the latter end of September. The MVWG “ad hoc” sessions involved approximately 23 pulling days, with 54 attendances (several persons attending on several occasions during the Summer), resulting in 196 pulling hours.

During 2015 there was even more difficulty in reaching Himalayan Balsam on three of the SSSI sites in the lower Moss Valley. Increasing thickets of bramble and bracken have made pulling extremely time consuming as in some areas it was taking longer to cut through this growth than to actually pull the balsam. This matter has been reported to Natural England and as a result NE officers have recently paid several field visits to the various areas of the Moss Valley SSSI and are discussing with tenant farmers and land owners ways forward to manage the sites effectively in order to try and remedy the situation for the future.

The grand total for Himalayan Balsam pulling in the Moss Valley for 2015 is: 28 pulling days, 118 attendances, 528 pulling hours.

Derbyshire County Council Highways Department were informed of Himalayan Balsam growth on a steep bank on Ford Lane and after telephone calls expressing concern of potential spread into other areas of the Moss Valley and its surroundings, it seems that this was dealt with during September.

Due to difficulties with injuries, medical conditions and illness affecting those MVWG members involved in Himalayan Balsam pulling, most of whom are now in their mid-seventies, it will not be possible for Moss Valley Wildlife Group to continue with Himalayan Balsam pulling after this year. However, some MVWG members have expressed a wish to continue attending with SCV during 2016, therefore, SCV have agreed to liaise with those particular MVWG members. SCV have given permission for their contact details to be passed on to the relevant land owners, tenant farmers, Natural England et al.

To finish on a positive note, several new landowners in the Moss Valley have taken responsibility for pulling Himalayan Balsam on their own land and this has greatly eased the burden on SCV and MVWG for 2015 and more importantly for future years. Many thanks to those who have taken this desperately needed direct action.

In addition, the largest landowner in the Moss Valley has already contacted SCV and will be paying SCV’s transport costs and expenses in order for SCV to attend on three potential pull dates in 2016; likewise another landowner has organised for SCV to attend on a similar basis for two sessions in 2016. This will fill SCV’s balsam pulling capacity in the Moss Valley for 2016, therefore, it is vital that other landowners and tenant farmers follow the good example set by the new land owners in the Moss Valley and take responsibility for controlling the spread of Himalayan Balsam in the Moss Valley themselves. After discussions some have intimated they will do this.

Once again, sincere thanks and congratulations must be acknowledged to all those individuals and organisations involved in such a magnificent effort for 2015.

MVWG Himalayan Balsam Pulling Team

HIMALAYAN BALSAM PULL REPORT, 2014

MOSS VALLEY WILDLIFE GROUP

HIMALAYAN BALSAM PULL REPORT 2014

“BIG PULL 5”

The Himalayan Balsam Pull in the Moss Valley during 2014 was carried out under different administrative conditions than previously. As members of Moss Valley Wildlife Group (MVWG) were becoming increasingly physically unable to carry on this project, Sheffield Conservation Volunteers (SCV) “saved the day” by taking over the project in order to ensure that the balsam pull went ahead for 2014 by successfully applying for a grant of £300 from Eckington Parish Council to enable SCV to attend on five Sundays during 2014 to pull Himalayan Balsam in the Derbyshire section of the Moss Valley, primarily on areas in the lower Moss Valley, within the Moss Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The dates when this pulling took place were: 8 June, 20 July, 27 July, 17 August and 28 September 2014. A few MVWG members who could still physically cope with the task and who could attend on a Sunday, helped SCV on four of the five Sundays in question.

Other MVWG members who were unable to attend on a Sunday, attended regular pull days during the week on sites not pulled by SCV.

The 2014 pull commenced on 22 May with MVWG members pulling in a location upstream of Ford and carried on until 28 September with a final pull by SCV on some old allotments just downstream from Back Lane, Eckington. The SCV pulls commenced on Sunday, 8 June, in the Birley Hay Dam area, with the kind permission of the new owners. Subsequent SCV pull sites included “Derbyshire” Marsh and the surrounding area with the Moss Valley SSSI, woodland west of Eckington Church and the site of some old allotments east of Back Lane. These latter two sites were very heavily overgrown with Himalayan Balsam, as it had not been possible to enter onto some of this land in previous years for safety reasons, however, the land owner subsequently removed any potential hazards enabling work to go ahead.

It must be emphasised that pulling on all sites was undertaken with both landowners’ and tenant farmers’ full permissions. In addition both SCV and MVWG were covered by their own Public Liability Insurance, as were Sheffield City Council (SCC) and Sheffield Landscape Trust (SLT) who also took part.

SCC Landscape Planning Staff, assisted by staff and volunteers from SLT attended a pull on 23 July in the Plumbley area situated in the Sheffield section of the Moss Valley.

The MVWG pulls included sites in both the Derbyshire and Sheffield sections of the Moss Valley.

Due to the previous years of hard work, balsam growth had reduced dramatically in the lower Moss Valley but there were still pockets of heavy growth, particularly in High Bramley Wood in an area that had been pulled a couple of years ago, along with other sites that had either been newly discovered, or had been previously pulled but for various reasons it had not been possible to re-enter until 2014. There was particular improvement on both the Derbyshire and Sheffield sections of the Moss Valley SSSI particularly alongside the Moss Brook. These areas required monthly sessions of heavy “weeding” throughout the growth season. The “weeding” sessions actually took a lot of time and effort, often with more time being spent in getting to balsam growth through brambles, shrubs, bracken and long grass to reach the individual pockets of plants, their pink flowers showing through or above the surrounding vegetation.

The pull season ended on 28 September, on the old allotment site downstream of Back Lane, with a final tremendous effort from SCV who pulled the astonishing equivalent of 30 x 1 ton full rubble bags (30 wet tons). SCV were unable to fully clear the site which may have been possible if more helpers could have attended. Unfortunately no-one from MVWG was available to help on that day, and as the balsam had started to seed by this time it was decided that MVWG members should not finish off the task as the plants had by this time seeded and disturbance would have meant the seeds flying in all directions for long distances. However SCV have requested that if the project continues in 2015, then this site should be the first priority.

The totals for all four organisations were: 26 pull days in total, involving 432 hours of pulling, with 115 person attendances. The total amount of Himalayan Balsam pulled, in 1 ton rubble bag equivalents, was 110 wet tons, 105 of this being pulled in Derbyshire and 5 in Sheffield.

The wet tonnage pulled during 2013 was 53 wet tons, so it may seem strange that for 2014 there was more than double this amount pulled in 2014 of 110 wet tons. This was due, as previously explained, to the new sites pulled, these being the old allotments near Eckington in Derbyshire, yielding around 30 wet tons, another approximation of 6 wet tons in the Geer Lane area situated in Derbyshire, and the woodland at West Mosborough in Sheffield from which 2 wet tons were pulled. The growth on two sites in High Bramley Wood, Derbyshire, that was known about and had been previously pulled but which could not pulled in 2013 due to illness, resulted in around 20 wet tons, then around a further 21 wet tons from a site in the Derbyshire section that could not be pulled in 2013 due to access problems, now resolved for the time being. None of these extra sites fall within the Moss Valley SSSI. The extra tonnage from new and sites not pulled in 2013 totalled 79 wet tons. If these extra sites had not been pulled, then the total for 2014 would have been 31 wet tons. This shows that the sites pulled every year yielded just over half of that from 2013 (31 wet tons as against 53 wet tons for 2013).

The above illustrates that even missing one year of pulling at a site can have devastating results, such as High Bramley Wood (approximately 20 wet tons) and the site where access in 2013 was not possible (around 21 wet tons). Himalayan Balsam growth in the Moss Valley will never be eradicated but it CAN be controlled with a sustained annual effort which can result in a steadily reducing amount of growth.

One only has to compare the almost Himalayan Balsam clear Moss Valley now with other locations in the River Rother catchment area that are currently choked with Himalayan Balsam. But a “watching brief” relating to the clearing of Himalayan Balsam is still required in the Moss Valley. Let us not waste the previous past five years’ and more of extremely hard work and persistence by a relatively few number of people. There are still pockets of growth and we know that only a small number of plants can create havoc within a few years. Experience has shown that unless consistent and annual pulling of Himalayan Balsam, that has some amazing built-it survival skills, is continued, then the Moss Valley will again become covered in this non native invasive species.

It is vital that a beautiful location like the Moss Valley, an agricultural working environment, containing within it several sites of Special Scientific Interest in both the Derbyshire and Sheffield sections, over 30 sites on the Derbyshire Wildlife Sites Register, and Sites of Natural History Interest in the Sheffield section, in addition to being an Area of High Landscape Value containing several Conservation Areas, does not lose it’s magnificent biodiversity over the years to come due to being choked by Himalayan Balsam.

Finally, but most importantly, sincere thanks for the successful completion of this year’s project must be extended to:

Eckington Parish Council for providing the grant funding to SCV in order for the project to continue;

Everyone in SCV who assisted in any way. It must be emphasised that without SCV’s vital help and organisation, working in appalling conditions, the Himalayan Balsam Pulling Project in the Moss Valley would not have been able to continue with such impressive results.

SCC and SLT staff and volunteers for their assistance and attendance;

The landowners and tenant farmers who gave permission to work on their land;

All the MVWG members who helped and especially those who turned up regularly often working in extremely difficult conditions.

Celia Jackson 9 October 2014.

Photo:Alberto ZelaietaPhoto:Alberto Zelaieta Photo:Alberto Zelaieta

HIMALAYAN BALSAM PULL 2014: EARLY INFO, SPRING 2014

Arrangements have been made with our partners for Balsam pulling in 2014. Due to the difficult nature of the work, access, and considerations re. landowners' requirements/private land/insurance etc the work will not be open to the public. We intend to keep up the momentum on Himalayan Balsam this year, both in the usual places and in some new areas where access has been permitted, in order to conserve the valley and its nature reserves. Special thanks to Celia Jackson for organising this project and to our partner organisations and all volunteers.

ABRIDGED REPORT ON THE HIMALAYAN BALSAM PULL 2013

Another huge effort and an equally huge THANK YOU! to all involved in keeping up the momentum with this project. The report speaks for itself, proving once again that local action can make a real difference to the land, the habitat and the biodiversity of our natural surroundings. See the report below these photos.

MOSS VALLEY WILDLIFE GROUP “Big Pull 5” 2013

A REPORT ON THE MOSS VALLEY “BIG PULL 5” HIMALAYAN BALSAM PULL, MOSS VALLEY SITE OF SPECIAL SCIENTIFIC INTEREST, LOWER MOSS VALLEY, AND TROWAY/BIRLEY HAY/GEER LANE AREAS JUNE TO SEPTEMBER 2013

Celia Jackson October 2013

REPORT

AIMS & OBJECTIVES

Moss Valley Wildlife Group’s Aims and Objectives for Himalayan Balsam Pulling in the Lower Moss Valley during 2013 were to attempt to finalise the work undertaken during the past four years on previously known sites, and to concentrate on the newly pulled areas discovered in 2012.

THANKS FOR PHYSICAL HELP & ADVICE

Our work during 2013 yet again, would have been impossible to carry out had it not been for all the sheer physical hard work and help received from the following:

MVWG utilised funding to bring in the magnificent team from Sheffield Conservation Volunteers (SCV) for a fourth year on five dates, 9 & 23 June, 28 July, 18 August and 15 September 2013, all of whom gave up their free time thereby making a tremendous impact on the reduction of Himalayan Balsam with all their sustained hard work and advice on pulling days. Thanks to Dave Sinclair of SCV who undertook liaison between SCV & MVWG in arranging these pulls. Sheffield Landscape Trust (SLT) Volunteers and Officers Adrian Burke & Kevin Hill, together with Helen Mitchell, Sheffield City Council (SCC) Landscape Planning Officer, attended on 23 July also giving a magnificent effort to fully clear sites in the Sheffield areas in and around the Lower Moss Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (LMV SSSI). Karl Knight, SCC Landscape Planning Officer must also be thanked for his liaison work for 2013. Thanks also to Derbyshire County Council (DCC) Countryside Service Volunteers and DCC Countryside Officer, Louise Bird, who attended on 20 August, giving much needed help, by doing another magnificent job clearing balsam from extremely difficult terrain in the Derbyshire section of the LMV SSSI.

Thanks to Ruth Keeley, Lead Adviser, Lowland Derbyshire & White Peak East Midlands Land Management Team of Natural England for granting permission to work on the SSSI; Gemma Gregory, Assistant Area Manager (North Area) DCC Countryside Service (previously Three Valleys Project); Karl Knight & Helen Mitchell, SCC Landscape Planning Officers; Nick Moyes the Lowland Derbyshire Biodiversity Action Plan Officer and Brian Armstrong, SCC’s Biodiversity Action Plan Officer, for their help with “background” administrative advice and assistance relating to their respective local authority areas in the Lower Moss Valley. Many thanks also to Struan McDougall of Fisher German, land agents for Sitwell Estates, for granting permission to work on Sitwell Estates’ land.

Thanks too to all the local farmers and land owners who gave permission to enter onto their land.

Finally, many thanks must be extended to MVWG Committee Members and to all those MVWG members and friends who gave up their time to help with the project in various ways. Again this year several MVWG Committee Members were unable to attend due to continuing health problems but assisted in other ways, particularly Dave Walker who kept our finances in strict order and emailed members with the latest pull dates, and Philip Wibberley & Jonathan Webster who ensured dates were advertised in the Group’s publications and website. Especial thanks must be made to Terry Jackson, Keith Pascoe, Jonathan Webster, Alan Webber and Chris Garlick who attended just about every MVWG pull session again this year. Many thanks are due to other MVWG members who came along these being, Ava Teasdale, Christine Gare and Doug Hindmarch. Thanks are also due to all those MVWG members and individuals within the local community, who pulled Himalayan Balsam on an ad hoc basis whilst walking in the Moss Valley. Thanks must also be extended to those land owners who pulled Himalayan Balsam on their own land and who have promised to continue to do so - this will mean that sites not near Public Rights of Way can be managed effectively leaving MVWG able to concentrate on other areas.

If anyone who has helped hasn’t been named, then please forgive the oversight, as everyone’s assistance has been very much welcomed and appreciated.

Figures for the project overall and for 2013 are shown below, with a detailed description of the Methodology.

SUCCESS FOR THE PROJECT OVERALL:

Figures for the amount of Himalayan Balsam pulled in the Lower Moss Valley since 2009 are shown below:

2009 Limited area on the LMV SSSI 26 wet tons

2010 Previous and extended area (including “Sheffield” Marsh) on the LMV SSSI 1,144 wet tons

2011 Including LMV SSSI and extended areas in Troway/Geer Lane/Birley Hay Dam areas 818 wet tons

2012 Including LMV SSSI, Troway/Geer Lane/Birley Hay Dam areas, plus field/woodland upstream 334 wet tons

2013 All the above, except for land not accessible in 2013 (rounded up from 52.65) 53 wet tons

TOTAL PULLED OVER 5 YEARS FROM 2009 TO 2013 2,375 wet tons

SUCCESS FOR 2013:

2013 proved to be a huge success in the amount of Himalayan Balsam growing and pulled. During 2013, it is estimated that a total of 52.65 (rounded up to 53 wet tons) was pulled, against the 2012 total of 334 wet tons pulled, giving an approximate reduction of around 85% in 2013 from 2012.

METHODOLOGY

As in previous years, before commencing the project, permission was sought from all land owners and tenant farmers in the Moss Valley in order to enter their land. In addition this year, due to legislation, it was necessary to receive permission in writing from Natural England to work on the SSSI.

The extremely wet Winter, followed by a very cold Spring, then a late but glorious Summer during 2013 meant initially there was no balsam to pull during May. During June growth was slow but by the beginning of July it was apparent that it was going to be a major task to keep up with the balsam growth, especially as our MVWG volunteer numbers had declined considerably since 2009. Not only was Himalayan Balsam growth rampant during the Summer but all the other vegetation kept pace with a massive increase in height and density of all manner of plants.

It was difficult to spot the balsam until the pink flowers heralded its presence. Then it was a major task to actually get to the balsam to pull it, struggling through bracken, brambles, nettles and rank grasses, often to reach the odd few plants lurking amongst the aforementioned thickets. It often took more time to reach than to actually pull the balsam itself, but we couldn’t afford to leave these stems as that would have meant another 5 year seed bank occurring. Although there were actually fewer plants in most locations due to the previous 4 years’ work, the aforementioned situation repeated itself throughout the Moss Valley. Due to lack of volunteers, the “weeding” patrols had to be curtailed to mainly 3 or 4 weeks for each site from June to mid September. Normally the pulling period would have extended to October but during 2013 it was decided to finish in mid-September as the sites along the length of the Moss Brook and its immediate environs within the Lower Moss Valley SSSI had been fully cleared.

Despite the dry Summer, due to the extremely wet Winter and Spring, the water table in the marshy areas was higher than usual. For this reason it was again decided to pull the balsam and leave the piles to rot down in situ rather than filling 1 ton rubble bags and dragging them short distances across wet and boggy ground.

VOLUNTEER ”PULL” TIME

DERBYSHIRE TOTAL

Actual pull days from 09.06.13. –15.09.13: 26

Volunteer numbers (actual attendances) 09.06.13. – 15.09.13: 100

Volunteer hours 09.06.13. –15.09.13. (pulling only): 501

Volunteer days (conversion based on 7 hours per day): 72 *

DCC Officer attendance day (20.08.13): 1

DCC Officer hours (pulling only): 5

Equivalent to 1 ton full rubble bags pulled (wet tons): 41.85

SHEFFIELD TOTAL

Actual pull days 18.06.13. – 15.09.13: 12

Volunteer numbers (actual attendances) 18.06.13. – 15.09.13: 50

Volunteer hours 18.06.13. – 15.09.13. (pulling only): 123

Volunteer days (conversion based on 7 hours per day): 18 *

SCC & SLT Officer numbers (23.06.13.)(Note same SCC Officer attended both sites [am & pm] pulling only): 3

SCC & SLT Officer hours (pulling only): 8

Equivalent to 1 ton full rubble bags pulled (wet tons): 10.8

SHEFFIELD AND DERBYSHIRE COMBINED

Actual pull days from 09.06.13. – 15.09.13: 38

Volunteer numbers (actual attendances) 09.06.13. – 15.09.13: 150

Volunteer hours 09.06.13. – 15.09.13. (pulling only): 624

Volunteer days (conversion based on 7 hours per day) (pulling only): 90 *

SCC, SLT & DCC Officer Attendance Days (actual days): 4

SCC, SLT & DCC Officer Hours (pulling only): 13

Equivalent to 1 ton full rubble bags pulled Lower Moss Valley, Derbyshire & Sheffield (wet tons)[Inc. SSSI]: 46.5

Equivalent to 1 ton full rubble bags pulled Troway/Geer Lane/Birley Hay complex (wet tons) [Not- SSSI]: 4.35

Equivalent to 1 ton full rubble bags pulled woodland south LMV SSSI (wet tons) [Not-SSSI]: 1.8

EQUIVALENT TO 1 TON FULL RUBBLE BAGS PULLED IN LOWER MOSS VALLEY DURING 2013 (WET TONS): 53# # Figure rounded up from actual of 52.65 wet tons pulled.

* The totals for volunteer days have been rounded up this year in order to create a whole volunteer working day of 7 hours per site. This is to reflect many ad hoc hours not recorded undertaken by MVWG members and members of the local community. The figures this year do show, separately, Local Authority Officer attendance and hours as the Writer feels this contribution should be recognised. In addition one or more sites were visited on the same day., but figures have been shown separately for each site to reflect the work and time required for specific locations.

The pulled balsam was left to ROT DOWN NEAR TO WHERE IT HAD BEEN GROWING, but away from watercourses and potential vulnerable flash flood areas. There will be no movement of the pulled material nor will it be composted.

Overview on pulling for 2013:

The fifth and final year of MVWG’s Himalayan Balsam “Big Pull” Programme during 2013 proved to be an extremely successful if exhausting venture. Despite everyone’s efforts, several plants, yet again, had to be left in one very small patch of “Derbyshire Marsh”, and 2014 will show if “Sheffield” Marsh was fully cleared. The pulling area within the Lower Moss Valley SSSI and the surrounding areas of the Lower Moss Valley dealt with during 2012 were fully cleared of Himalayan Balsam by 15 September 2013. After the final day of the pull, local people informed the Writer that there was growth somewhere near the top of High Bramley Wood, Derbyshire. It has not, as yet, been possible to investigate this site, although one area discovered in that vicinity late in 2011 was cleared in 2012 and twice in 2013.

The Environment Agency and Natural England will be informed of locations where MVWG is aware that Himalayan Balsam is currently growing and where it has been pulled in the Moss Valley.

PROTECT MANAGEMENT VOLUNTEER TIME

Maintaining momentum for the project into its fifth year has been no mean feat. As previously, there was a huge amount of background administrative work for 2013 that commenced immediately after the production of the 2012 Himalayan Balsam Report.

Hon MVWG Treasurer/Membership Secretary:

Ensuring funding was managed and spent appropriately, checking and paying invoices from Sheffield Conservation Volunteers, the provision of regular financial updates relating to the project for and at MVWG Business Meetings, regularly emailing MVWG members regarding pull sessions, constant liaison with MVWG (now retired) Hon Secretary.

Hon MVWG Secretary (now retired):

Obtaining verbal and emailed permissions from, (new for 2013, Natural England), land agents, landowners and tenant farmers to enter on to their land; discussions with Environment Agency officials; education, information and explanations on the ramifications of the spread of Himalayan Balsam in the Moss Valley to local people and local officers has been, yet again, a major time consuming activity both prior to and during the summer of 2013. General correspondence and emails; written and telephoned liaison with local authority staff, Derbyshire County Council Countryside Service (formerly Three Valleys Project), DCC Mid Derbyshire Biodiversity Action Plan Officer, SCC Biodiversity Action Plan Officer, SCC Ecology Officer, SCC Environmental Planning Officers, Sheffield Landscape Trust Officers; Sitwell Estates’ Land Agent; DCC Countryside Service Officers; South East Sheffield Countryside & Eco Advisory Meetings; Reports and updates to MVWG Committee at Business Meetings; production of notices/publicity; preparation of species lists etc; production of this report.

MVWG Committee:

Since the introduction of MVWG’s Website in 2011, MVWG Committee Members Jonathan Webster, Philip Wibberley and David Walker have set up a “Tab” for information on Himalayan Balsam Pulling and well as including photographs of balsam pulling events and illustrating species noted during balsam pulling days for the website Gallery. The Group’s Balsam Pulling activities were also exhibited at events held by other Natural History organisations.

All the above has involved, and continues to involve, more than 7 hours per week overall Administrative Management volunteer time. During the pull season this increased again during 2013 from that required for 2012, as closer liaison is now required with Natural England. Despite this work being carried throughout the calendar year, for statistical purposes Administrative Management volunteer time for the 2013 project has been calculated from the beginning of January 2013 to the beginning of December 2013, as attempts are being made for Sheffield Conservation Volunteers to receive direct funding in order to carry on the project in a more limited capacity, rather than no pulling taking place at all in the Moss Valley during 2014. It is estimated that overall MVWG Management & Administrative volunteer time for the 2013 Project will amount to at least 65 days.

MVWG Volunteer Expenses

The cost of all telephone calls directly concerned with this Project Management has been absorbed by MVWG members. Sheffield Conservation Volunteers charge a nominal sum per volunteer attending and for the cost of hiring transport to take their members to and from conservation projects. All volunteers with Derbyshire Countryside Service have given their time free of charge and DCC Countryside Service has also given their services free of charge. Sheffield City Council has not charged fees for attendance of Landscape Planning Officers, and Sheffield Landscape Trust volunteers have given their services free as have the Officers connected with Sheffield Landscape Trust. All MVWG member volunteers pay their own transport costs to various locations for pull sessions. It should also be noted that all MVWG Committee Members and members pay their own telephone costs (both land and mobile) and broadband fees for emails, internet access etc., and all their own transport costs relating to MVWG and the Moss Valley.

OBSERVATIONS

There is now very little farming stock grazing land in the Moss Valley for various reasons. The 2013 pull has once again confirmed our observations that there is increasing and continuing evidence that Himalayan Balsam can and does grow in drier areas, especially in ungrazed enclosures and drier woodlands, not just in damp areas and along watercourses. Once established, Himalayan Balsam grows rapidly in the field margins left uncut as part of the Countryside Stewardship and Single Agricultural Payment Agreements.

A major problem during 2013 was the increasing difficulty accessing both field margins and SSSI enclosures as brambles, nettles, hogweed and shrubs, particularly blackthorn, are taking over. It is appreciated that Natural England has taken action regarding “Derbyshire” Marsh with pony grazing to help reduce unwanted growth and to help improve the grass sward for future years. However there is a need to probably brush cut the SSSI’s and some other areas. Unfortunately neither MVWG nor SCV carry insurance any longer to work with power tools as the insurance costs are now far too expensive. There needs to be some input here from other sources to deal with what is going to be a massive problem for the future in keeping Himalayan Balsam growth to manageable levels and prevent further growth in future years. Fortunately, the protective clothing purchased in 2011/12 has lasted through 2013, but these garments are now in shreds having to negotiate within sites as described above. However, yet again, it has been noted that where the Himalayan Balsam was pulled around the edges of field margins in 2012, there has been a massive decrease in the amount of Himalayan Balsam growing in these areas during 2013. This has once more left more land clear to enable those farmers who utilise their enclosures for agriculture to gain a larger land area for crop or pasture use.

During 2013, it has definitely been confirmed that Himalayan Balsam appears to have a timed growth span. On areas that have been regularly pulled since 2009, even very tiny amounts of seed that have been left behind definitely have a growth pattern of emerging plants during April/May, June/July then August/September through to October. In 2013 there was also the worrying discovery that patches that have remained clear since 2009 have suddenly had re-growth emerge due to ideal growing conditions which has appeared to re-generate dormant seed. It is the opinion of those MVWG members who attend regular Himalayan Balsam Pulls, sometimes on a twice weekly basis, that Himalayan Balsam seed definitely lies dormant for as long as five years. The very cold Winter and wet Spring of 2013 followed by a very warm and dry Summer created ideal growing conditions. Once again, sparse early growth was more than made up for by vigorous growth which seemed to ensure “catch up” to take advantage of the growing conditions and to ensure that plants flowered and seeded before the colder Autumn weather. Despite all the above, there was been a dramatic improvement in the overall reduction of growth year on year.

For the first time in 5 years, it was possible to clear the old dam area east and below stream in the Moss Brook of the colloquially named “white bridge”. There is continuing improvement to the bio-diversity evident in the amount of Spring and Summer flora species and variety particularly in the marsh areas. Once more, it has been gratifying to observe the continued strong growth of Ancient Acidic Woodland Indicator Spring flora along the banks of the Moss Brook and in woodland where a few years ago there was bare ground, as well as continued improvement in Summer flora and fauna in meadow areas. The rarer plant species now continue to expand in both the Derbyshire and Sheffield areas of the SSSI, with others occurring just outside the margins of the SSSI, due to continuous weeding of Himalayan Balsam to prevent spread into agricultural enclosures. Unfortunately, during 2013, there was again evidence that rarer species of flora are being “collected” or dug up from the Lower Moss Valley. For this reason a species list is not included with this report – these details have already been sent to those officials and individuals on a “need to know” basis.

Even more apparent during 2013, MVWG along with many other volunteer organisations, is having to cope with the demographics of a rapidly ageing membership with very few people of a younger age group able or willing to be involved in any of its activities. Half of the few MVWG members regularly involved in Himalayan Balsam pulling are now more than 70 years old, all of whom are suffering increasing and various health problems. Several other MVWG members who have been involved in this exhausting task previously have found it impossible to do this work during 2013.

POSITIVE FEEDBACK

During 2013, it has been even more gratifying to note the continued thanks and positive comments from the both the local farming community and members of the public who live in and around, and utilise the Moss Valley. Local farmers have voiced their thanks for help with an overwhelming task initially not of their making. Several land owners, after seeing the results of our efforts, are continuing to take a keen interest in trying to ensure that Himalayan Balsam growth doesn’t re-occur on their land by pulling areas themselves. Some farmers have taken on Higher Level Stewardship Agreements with Natural England/DEFRA.

Members of the local community again in 2013, have worked with MVWG members and all other regular volunteers, by pulling small amounts near public rights of way, reporting informally on a verbal basis what they have done, and checking that they are doing the pulling correctly. These people are delighted to chat to us whilst we are working and give much needed encouragement. As the landscape and biodiversity of the Lower Moss Valley continues to be improved, local people are able to witness first-hand, the re-emergence of some of the Moss Valley as they used to remember it, enjoying the benefits both to the ecologically and themselves. By carrying out the Big Pull 5 Himalayan Balsam Pull during 2013, MVWG has continued working to ensure that the local population of North East Derbyshire and South East Sheffield, in addition to all manner of users of the Moss Valley including family groups, rambling clubs, running clubs, horse riders, mountain bikers, birders, botanists, invertebrate, mammal and fungi specialists, fishermen and many individuals, as well as those from further afield, continue to enjoy and benefit from the improved biodiversity in the Lower Moss Valley. Our project has been fully supported by both the Mid-Derbyshire and Sheffield Biodiversity Habitat Plan Officers, as they realise the lack of balsam growth in the Moss Valley has, and is still, creating a greater range of bio-diversity in the Moss Valley.

CONCLUSION

Finances for 2014 Moss Valley Wildlife Group has, this year, changed its method of operation and it has been decided to operate the group with a General Committee for the time being and the Group will no longer be involved with large conservation projects. Therefore, further funding for Himalayan Balsam pulling will not be applied for as a promise to “deliver” against funding naturally has to be made. MVWG has carried on with the original 3-year Himalayan Balsam Project for a further 2 years in order to continue with the huge improvements made to the bio-diversity of the Lower Moss Valley that this venture has created. However, further work still needs to be done to keep the Himalayan Balsam growth under control as far as is possible – it will be impossible to eradicate it completely due to the complexity of land ownership in the Moss Valley which is, thankfully, still an agricultural working environment. For the above reasons, Sheffield Conservation Volunteers have made the very generous offer of suggesting that they receive direct funding to carry on Himalayan Balsam pulling in the Moss Valley during 2014. As previously stated, SCV charge a nominal sum per volunteer per day, plus transport costs. MVWG is, therefore, doing its best to help SCV obtain direct funding in order to continue Himalayan Balsam Pulling in the Moss Valley for 2014.

It is hoped despite huge reductions in local authority spending, that it will be possible to continue to utilise the services of DCC Countryside Service Volunteers & Officers and SCC/SLT Volunteers and Officers during 2014, without charge.

CLOSING STATEMENT The efforts of the previous four years have been sustained by a complete clearance of all but a few areas, especially downstream, of the Lower Moss Valley SSSI and its immediate environs during 2013. There has been an ongoing improvement since 2012 of another 85% less growth pulled of Himalayan Balsam in 2013, and a continuous decline of growth in sites pulled since 2009 and before. A total sum of 2,375 wet tons of Himalayan Balsam pulled in the Lower Moss Valley over 5 years is no mean achievement, and heartfelt thanks are given to ALL who have been involved in whatever capacity. As mentioned previously, it is particularly appreciated that Natural England has taken a pro-active role in advising land owners and farmers of their responsibilities relating to Himalayan Balsam growth during 2013. It is now fervently hoped that Sheffield Conservation Volunteers will be able to receive funding to continue the improvement to the bio-diversity of the Lower Moss Valley in 2014.

Celia M Jackson, Moss Valley Wildlife Group, October 2013

HIMALAYAN BALSAM PULL 2012

The Balsam Pull 2012 was a resounding success, and we have received praise from Natural England. Around 48 pulling days/334 full rubble bags were achieved by the various volunteers and organisations in another substantial effort in the valley. Once again we cleared Himalayan Balsam on the SSSI and numerous other sites. Well done to all. The 2012 Report is now available and the abridged version is below.

ABRIDGED REPORT 2012

MOSS VALLEY “BIG PULL 4” HIMALAYAN BALSAM PULL

MOSS VALLEY SITE OF SPECIAL SCIENTIFIC INTEREST, LOWER MOSS VALLEY AND TROWAY/GEER LANE/BIRLEY HAY COMPLEX, MOSS VALLEY

MAY TO OCTOBER 2012

AIMS & OBJECTIVES

Moss Valley Wildlife Group’s Aims and Objectives for Himalayan Balsam Pulling in the Lower Moss Valley during 2012 were to further consolidate the work undertaken during the previous three years, to concentrate on the newly pulled areas dealt with in 2011, and to investigate potential problem sites outside the SSSI that hadn’t been dealt with in the previous three years.

THANKS FOR PHYSICAL HELP & ADVICE

Our work during 2012 would have been impossible to achieve without all the sheer physical hard work and help received from the following:

MVWG utilised funding to bring in the magnificent team from Sheffield Conservation Volunteers for a third year on seven dates, 27 May, 17 June, 22 & 29 July, 19 August and 16 & 23 September 2012, all of whom gave up their free time to yet again make a tremendous impact on the reduction of Himalayan Balsam with all their sustained hard work and advice on pulling days. Thanks also to Dave Sinclair of SCV who undertook liaison between SCV & MVWG in arranging these pulls. Sheffield Landscape Trust Volunteers and Staff Adrian Burke & Kevin Hill, together with Karl Knight newly appointed SCC Environmental Planner, came along on 13 June, and did a fantastic job clearing a hedgerow and its environs, then moving on to land in the Sheffield section of the Lower Moss Valley SSSI. Unfortunately the Writer cancelled a further date arranged for SLT to attend on 11 July due to earlier reports that there didn’t seem to be any growth at Plumbley Hall Farm stackyard. This was a huge mistake as a sudden surge of growth in that location resulted in a hard day’s work for a couple of MVWG Committee Members during August. Plumbley Hall Farm stackyard will have to be a priority area during July 2013 in order to prevent further growth. Three Valleys Project Volunteers and DCC Countryside Ranger Mick Hodgetts attended on 31 July, with TVP Volunteers attending again on 21 August together with DCC Countryside Ranger Paul Bown, to give much needed help on the Derbyshire section of the Lower Moss SSSI and on land upstream from Eckington Church.

Thanks to Gemma Gregory of Derbyshire County Council Countryside Service (previously Three Valleys Project), Sally Pereira the Sheffield City Council Environmental Planning Officer, who retired in July 2012, and to Karl Knight & Helen Mitchell, Sally’s replacements, Debbie Alston the Lowland Derbyshire Biodiversity Action Plan Officer , for their help with “background” administrative advice and assistance relating to their respective local authority areas in the Lower Moss Valley. Many thanks also to Struan McDougall of Fisher German, land agents for Sitwell Estates, for actively being involved in liaising with MVWG, local land owners and Sitwell Estate tenants.

Many thanks too for all the local farmers and land owners who gave permission to enter onto their land. Thanks also to new member Richard Hancock, who has given much help in ensuring that an area of land between Back Lane and his property will also now be managed which includes the clearance of Himalayan Balsam.

Finally, many thanks must be extended to MVWG Committee Members and to all those MVWG members and friends who gave up their time to help with the project in various ways. Several MVWG Committee Members were unable to attend due to health reasons but assisted in other ways, particularly Dave Walker who kept our finances in strict order and emailed members with the latest pull dates, and Philip Wibberley & Jonathan Webster who ensured dates were advertised in the Group’s publications and website. Especial thanks must be made to Terry Jackson, Keith Pascoe, Jonathan Webster, Alan Webber and Chris Garlick who attended just about every MVWG pull session. Many thanks are due to other MVWG members who came along these being, Ava Teasdale, Joan Moxon, Peter Robinson, Philip Wibberley, Jean Kilner, Doug Hindmarsh, and Elaine Drabble (who pulled Balsam on Eckington Church land on behalf of the group). Many thanks also to all those MVWG members and members of the local community, including Sorby Natural History Society’s Beetle Recorder, Bob Merritt, who pulled Himalayan Balsam on an ad hoc basis whilst walking/surveying in the Moss Valley. Thanks must also be extended to those land owners who pulled Himalayan Balsam on their own land and who have promised to continue to do so - this will mean that sites not near Public Rights of Way can be managed effectively leaving MVWG able to concentrate on other areas.

If anyone who has helped hasn’t been named, then please forgive the oversight, as everyone’s help has been very much welcomed and appreciated.

METHODOLOGY

As in previous years, before commencing the project, verbal permission was sought from all land owners and tenant farmers in the Moss Valley in order to enter their land.

The extremely dry Spring of 2012 meant there was very little Himalayan Balsam growth during May. However the wettest Summer on record that followed for 2012 proved to be a challenge with Himalayan Balsam Plants around 3ft tall and either ready to or in flower were present only a fortnight after where there had previously been no growth at certain sites. This pattern continued right through into October when late flowering plants were still emerging at a fast rate. Due to the nature of the terrain and the very wet conditions it was decided to pull and pile to rot down in situ rather than filling 1 ton rubbish bags and dragging them short distances across wet and boggy ground.

Previous reports have given a full description of the sites referred to below therefore these are merely listed without going into great detail regarding the topography, size and locations.

Birley Hay/ Geer Lane/ Troway complex (MR SK27/37 388797 – SK28/38 398803)

Birley Hay Dam:

During the Summer of 2012 priority was given to the Birley Hay Dam, Geer Lane and Troway areas upstream of the SSSI. These areas were newly discovered during 2011 being on private land, away from all public rights of way. As previously stated, despite two attempts by MVWG to ascertain any balsam growth upstream of the SSSI prior to pulling on the Lower Moss Valley SSSI in 2009, no feedback was forthcoming regarding any Himalayan Balsam growth in these areas.

“Official” pulling for 2012, commenced on 27 May 2012 with a joint effort by 10 x SCV volunteers and 3 x MVWG members at Birley Hay Dam. Due to the very dry early Spring there was much less balsam than anticipated. There was a definite improvement from 2011 at this site, growth being about two thirds less than the previous year, with, on average, the equivalent of 1 x 1 ton rubble bag pulled per person pulled amounting to 13 filled bags. A further visit was made on 17 June 2012 by 10 x SCV volunteers and 2 x MVWG members, resulting in another 1 ton bag each minimum per person being pulled, totalling 12 bags. A visit to the northern side of Birley Hay Dam was made by 5 x SCV volunteers and 4 x MVWG members on 22 July 2012 and again all balsam was cleared amounting to an average of 1 x 1 ton bag per person, amounting to 9 bags minimum. A further visit was made to Birley Hay Dam on 19 August by 6 x SCV volunteers and 3 x MVWG members in order to clear any remaining growth, this time here being an average of about half a 1 ton bag being pulled by each person, amounting to approximately 5 bags. The 3 x MVWG members continued for a further couple of hours clearing the accessible growth on the north side of Birley Hay Dam (flooding prevented safe removal of several plants) when a further 2 x 1 ton bag equivalents were pulled. The 2012 total for Birley Hay Dam approximated to the equivalent of 41 x 1 ton full rubble bags. A very wet Summer meant that the Himalayan Balsam grew at an astonishing rate late into the usual growing season.

Geer Lane woodland:

MVWG members undertook to clear this area themselves, as in 2011. On 17 July 2012, 6 MVWG members cleared approximately 1 x 1 ton full rubble bag each from this area. This was a vast improvement on 2012. This visit was followed on 11 August 2012 with 2 MVWG members doing a further clear-up in the woodland and around the ponds, again pulling around 1 x full bag each. The total for Geer Lane woodlands amounted to the equivalent of 8 full x 1 ton bags.

Troway area:

Upstream of the aforementioned woodland, the landowners had already worked hard to clear Himalayan Balsam from their land. However 4 MVWG members attended on 24 July 2012 in order to progress clearance at the southern end of the site where it abuts the Geer Lane woodland. Here again there was a massive improvement and all plants were removed, with approximately 1 x 1 ton bag being pulled person, totalling approximately 4 x 1 ton bags. The land owners promised to keep a watch for further growth during 2012. On the same day, MVWG members also cleared an allotment at Troway and land north of the road through Troway, pulling around another 1 ton bag per person, again pulling 4 x 1 ton bag equivalents. There was still a large amount of Himalayan Balsam growing on the site of commercial premises at Troway but the owners stated they would deal with this themselves. One MVWG member had also previously pulled Himalayan Balsam from the roadside at Troway on 15 July 2012. The writer carried out a further “weeding” at Troway on 7 October 2012 to prevent further spread from late flowering plants. Whilst doing so, the daughter of the allotment owner at Troway promised to pull any further Himalayan Balsam growth at her father’s premises in future years. Also Himalayan Balsam was still in flower on that date at the commercial premises at Troway, with the owner’s son promising the writer that this would be dealt with. MVWG pulled an estimated 8 x 1 ton bags in the Troway area during 2012. The landowners mentioned above had also pulled a large amount prior to the visit by MVWG on 24 July 2012.

Lower Moss Valley (MR SK48/58 402804 – SK47/57 431799)

The first “official” pull arranged for 20 May 2012 with Sheffield Conservation Volunteers in the Lower Moss Valley was cancelled due to lack of early growth. As previously stated, ad hoc pulling in the Lower Moss Valley from Ford to Eckington had taken place during late May and early June wherever MVWG Committee Members noticed balsam growth.

“Derbyshire” Marsh:

Pulling on this site commenced on 29 July 2012, with 13 SCV members and 3 MVWG members clearing “Derbyshire” Marsh and its environs. Yet again, there was a massive improvement from the previous years, with each person pulling approximately 1 x 1 ton full rubble bag each. The marsh was fully cleared on that date. Five x MVWG members again cleared the marsh on 14 August 2012, again clearing approximately 1 x 1 ton bag each. A final visit to Derbyshire Marsh with SCV took place on 23 September 2012 with 11 x SCV members and 2 MVWG members. The marsh was fully cleared, with the exception of a few stalks that were in the middle of the marsh and despite the heroic efforts of 2 x SCV volunteers, these plants were far too dangerous to reach even when wearing chest waders and having life jackets and life lines available, the mire being far too glutinous and dangerous to extract people if they got into difficulties. Approximately 1 x 1 ton bag was pulled by each volunteer. The approximate total pulled for “Derbyshire” Marsh for 2012 was the equivalent of 34 x 1 ton rubble bags.

Lower Moss Valley SSSI and surrounding areas - Derbyshire:

Here again, Himalayan Balsam growth was much less than in 2011, with the exception of a “new” site west of Eckington Church that was heavily overgrown. Although the “official” pull with SCV volunteers was cancelled, pulling commenced on 20 May 2012 with 2 x MVWG members clearing the lower section of Ince Piece Wood and its surroundings pulling approximately half a ton bag each , followed by MVWG member pulls on 6 June (1 x MVWG member), 19 June (4 x MVWG members), 21 June (2 x MVWG members) again pulling a total equivalent to approximately 1 x 1 ton bag, totalling 7 x 1 ton bags. On 31 July 2012, 4 x DCC Countryside Volunteers (TVP Volunteers) and 5 x MVWG members cleared a section of an old dam with a magnificent effort in dreadful conditions by clearing the whole area, pulling at least 2 x 1 ton full rubble bags each, totalling 18 x 1 ton full bags, followed by MVWG member pulls on 2 August (1 x MVWG member), 3 August (1 x MVWG member) 5 August (2 x MVWG members), 9 August (4 x MVWG members), 11 August (1 x MVWG member) , 14 August (5 x MVWG members) and 15 August (2 x MVWG members), again pulling approximately 1 x 1 ton full bag each, pulling 16 x 1 ton bags overall. On 21 August 2012, 3 x DCC Countryside Volunteers (TVP Volunteers) and 4 MVWG members cleared various sections of the SSSI finishing in the afternoon by clearing a very wet area just west of Eckington Church, (a new site). Each volunteer pulled at least 2 x 1 ton bags each, totalling 14 x 1 ton bags. The DCC countryside rangers also pulled at least 2 x 1 ton bags each, but these haven’t been included in the volunteer figures. Further visits were paid on 4 September (3 x MVWG members) and 9 October (1 x MVWG member), pulling in total around 1 x 1 ton bag each. A minimum of 36 MVWG member attendances were carried out pulling on the Derbyshire section of the SSSI. Some sessions involved quite heavy pulling, others being weeding operations. The average quantity pulled per session by MVWG members, apart from 31 July and 21 August, approximated to 1 x 1 ton bag per member per day for the whole length of the Derbyshire section of the Lower Moss Valley SSSI and its surroundings. In addition on 23 September the 11 x SCV and 2 x MVWG volunteers were able to clear the north side of the Moss Brook opposite “Derbyshire” Marsh, and pull each side of the Moss Brook up to the cross paths a little further west upstream, again pulling around the equivalent of 1 x 1 ton bag per person totalling 13 x 1 ton bags. The total of Himalayan Balsam pulled by volunteers on the Derbyshire section of the Lower Moss Valley SSSI, and its surroundings, excluding “Derbyshire” Marsh, was estimated at the equivalent of 73 x 1 ton filled rubble bags.

Lower Moss Valley South, field margins – Derbyshire:

MVWG members have previously pulled Himalayan Balsam very successfully since 2010 on private land that has no public rights of way. On 19 June 2012, 4 x MVWG members cleared this area noting a massive improvement from the previous two years with very little to pull. However on walking around the enclosure further south to check on some growth discovered in 2011, it was noted with consternation, a large amount of Himalayan Balsam growing at the foot of a small area of woodland around a watercourse that ran into an underground culvert at that point, and worse still on land belonging to another farmer, again with no public rights of way across it. Those present pulled what they could on land where permission to enter had been granted, in the time left available, but some growth had to be left, together with all the growth in the woodland. Approximately 4 x 1 ton bags were pulled that day. A follow up visit to this area was made on 26 July 2012 by 2 MVWG members who pulled approximately 10 x 1 ton full bags between them. A final visit was undertaken on 16 September 2012 when 11 x SCV volunteers and 2 x MVWG members cleared this section fully probably pulling about 4 x 1 ton bags. The total of Himalayan Balsam pulled on field margins on the south side of the Lower Moss Valley in Derbyshire during 2012 was around the equivalent of 18 x 1 ton bags.

Lower Moss Valley South, woodland – Derbyshire:

Enquiries and explanations regarding Himalayan Balsam and the problems associated with it, resulted in MVWG members and SCV being given permission to enter into private woodland, where the Himalayan Balsam growth was solid, having choked just about every other kind of ground flora. Pulling commenced in earnest for almost a fortnight, in addition to pulls arranged previously for other areas of the Moss Valley. On 23 July 2012, 2 x MVWG members dealt with 10 x 1 ton full bags between them. Further sessions were held by the same 2 MVWG members on 25, 27, 28, & 30 July 2012, then 1 (a very long shift) 2, August , with a third MVWG member helping on 4 August 2012. At least 10 x 1 ton full bags were pulled by these members on this site per day with 20 x 1 ton filled bags pulled in a magnificent effort on 1 August, totalling 80 x 1 ton bags. A further pull ensued on 16 September 2012 with the above mentioned 11 x SCV volunteers and 2 x MVWG members each pulling a further 1 x 1 ton bag each in the woodland. The total amount of Himalayan Balsam pulled on this site during 2012 amounted to at least 103 x 1 ton filled rubble bags!

Lower Moss Valley SSSI and surrounding areas– Sheffield:

There was a massive reduction in growth of Himalayan Balsam on the Sheffield section of the Lower Moss Valley SSSI from 2011. Pulling commenced on 10 June 2012 by 1 x MVWG member, followed on 11 June 2012 by 2 more MVWG members, involving quite heavy “weeding” with perhaps 1 x 1 ton bag pulled by each individual, totalling 3 x 1 ton bags. A team of volunteers and staff totalling 3 volunteers plus 2 staff from Sheffield Landscape Trust, and a SCC Environmental Planning Officer, together with 3 x MVWG members pulled Himalayan Balsam from a deep ditch and hedgerow adjacent to fields in the West Mosborough area, northern side, of the Lower Moss Valley, then continued west alongside the Moss Brook along the Sheffield section of the Lower Moss Valley SSSI. It was estimated that around 2 x 1 ton bags per volunteer were pulled on that day, totalling 12 x 1 ton bags. Although SLT & SCC pulled approximately 2 x 1 ton bags per person, figures are shown for volunteers only. On 15 August 2012, 2 x MVWG members continued in the afternoon onto the Sheffield section from Derbyshire weeding for a further hour, pulling around another 1 x 1 ton bag each, totalling 2 x 1 ton bags. 1 x MVWG member returned to the afore mentioned hedgerow at West Mosborough on 21 August 2012 to weed a small amount easily accessible, then on 4 September 2012, 3 x MVWG members returned to the hedgerow to clear up any extra growth, pulling around 1 x 1 ton bag each. A member of Sorby Natural History Society also kindly pulled about 200 stems of Himalayan Balsam on the Sheffield SSSI alongside the Moss Brook during the summer. Another MVWG member did a weeding patrol in late August along the Sheffield SSSI finding only 4 stems. On 23 September 2012, 8 x SCV volunteers also only found a few stems whilst patrolling the Sheffield SSSI alongside the Moss Brook. A final weeding was undertaken by 1 MVWG member on 9 October 2012 when around 30 stems were pulled. The total for this area of the Moss Valley was at most the equivalent of 22 x 1 ton full rubble bags.

Lower Moss Valley, “Sheffield” Marsh – Sheffield:

On 9 August 2012, 2 x MVWG members continued on to Sheffield Marsh from the Derbyshire side, pulling at least 2 x 1 ton bags each on this site, then again visited Sheffield Marsh on 15 August pulling at least 5 x 1 ton bags each. On 4 September 2012, the 3 x MVWG members mentioned above continued on to Sheffield Marsh to undertake a final weeding, pulling perhaps another 1 ton bag equivalent between them. A total of approximately 15 x 1 ton rubble bags being pulled in this area – a huge improvement on 2011.

Plumbley Hall Farm Stackyard – Sheffield:

2 x MVWG members called in at Plumbley Hall Farm stackyard to check on what was thought to be a short weeding session. To their horror, from NIL growth in June, the upper end of the stackyard was covered in balsam growing amongst farm machinery, debris and fallen masonry with more growing at the side of a pond that flowed down into the SSSI. This had to be dealt with immediately so the half hour potential weed turned into 3.5 hours of hard labour each, with both persons pulling well over 6 x 1 ton full rubble bags each. The total for Plumbley Hall Farm Stavckyard for 2012 was around 12 x 1 ton full rubble bags. This was a huge disappointment as the area was fully cleared during 2010 and 2011. This site will be a priority for 2013.

2012 yet again was a resounding success. As in 2011, with the exception of the tiny area in “Derbyshire Marsh” mentioned above, the whole of the Moss Valley SSSI and the surrounding environs of the Lower Moss Valley were fully cleared of Himalayan Balsam officially by 9 October 2012. This year MVWG has yet again extended their pulling range. The whole of the Lower Moss Valley SSSI and the area immediately outside of same was fully cleared as in previous years, in addition in 2012, to land just west and to the rear of Eckington Church. The whole of the Troway/Geer Lane/ Birley Hay complex discovered in 2011 was also fully cleared. In addition, an area of field margin and woodland on private land, well away from public rights of way south of the Lower Moss Valley SSSI was also fully cleared during July, August & September 2012. A huge effort was put into pulling on this newly discovered site, and we look forward to seeing the results of our labours in 2013. Thank you so much to everyone involved in sustaining our efforts by continuing with a programme that was only planned for three years.

VOLUNTEER ”PULL” TIME

SHEFFIELD AND DERBYSHIRE COMBINED

Actual pull days from 20.05.12. – 09.10.2012. 48 Volunteer numbers (actual attendances) 20.05.12. – 09.10.12. 184 Volunteer hours 20.05.12. – 09.10.12. (pulling only) 896 Volunteer days (conversion based on 7 hours per day) (pulling only) 128 Equivalent to 1 ton full rubble bags pulled Lower Moss Valley, Derbyshire & Sheffield 156) Equivalent to 1 ton full rubble bags pulled Troway/Geer Lane/Birley Hay complex 57) Equivalent to 1 ton full rubble bags pulled field margins/woodland south LMV SSSI (new 2012) 121) EQUIVALENT TO 1 TON FULL RUBBLE BAGS PULLED IN MOSS VALLEY DURING 2012 334

NB: The totals for volunteer hours have been rounded either up or down as appropriate in order to divide evenly x 7 to create a whole volunteer working day, but this has not affected the figures for the number of hours actually worked. These figures only relate to volunteer hours. The figures do not include hours worked by the local community when walking in the Moss Valley, nor have “ad hoc” pulling hours undertaken by members of MVWG on separate days to those logged been included. The pulled balsam was left TO ROT DOWN NEAR TO WHERE IT HAD BEEN GROWING, but away from watercourses and potential vulnerable flash flood areas. There will be no movement of the pulled material nor will it be composted.

PROTECT MANAGEMENT VOLUNTEER TIME

Carrying on with the project into its fourth year again there was a huge amount of background administrative work immediately after the production of the 2011 Himalayan Balsam Report. Attendances at county wide conferences relating to invasive species took up whole days of MVWG Committee Members’ time. The effort for 2012 very closely mirrored that for 2011 as illustrated below:

Hon MVWG Treasurer/Membership Secretary

Ensuring grant funding was managed and spent appropriately, checking and paying invoices from Conservation Volunteer organisations, ongoing communication with DCC officials, the provision of regular financial updates relating to the project for and at MVWG Business meetings, regularly emailing MVWG members regarding pull sessions, constant liaison with MVWG Hon Secretary.

Hon MVWG Secretary

Obtaining verbal and emailed permissions from landowners and tenant farmers to enter on to their land, especially in relation to newly discovered Himalayan Balsam sites during the Summer of 2012; liaison and further education, information and explanations on the ramifications of the spread of Himalayan Balsam in the Moss Valley was a major time consuming activity during the summer of 2012 relative to the newly discovered sites, which required much greater and closer liaison with landowners, local farmers and residents to enable access to pulling sites: general correspondence and emails; written and telephoned liaison with local authority staff, particularly Derbyshire County Council Countryside Service (formerly Three Valleys Project), Lower Derbyshire Biodiversity Action Plan Officer/s, Sheffield City Council’s Biodiversity Action Plan Officer, Sheffield City Council Environmental Planning Officer, Sheffield City Council Ecology Unit staff, Sitwell Estates’ Land Agent; reports and updates to MVWG Committee at Business Meetings, the DCC Countryside Service, South East Sheffield Countryside & Eco Advisory Meetings; production of notices; preparation of species lists etc; production of this report.

MVWG Committee

Since the introduction of MVWG’s Website in 2011, committee members Jonathan Webster, Phil Wibberley and Dave Walker have set up a “Tab” for information on Himalayan Balsam Pulling and well as including photos of balsam pulling events and species noted during balsam pulling days for the website Gallery. This shorter version of the report will be added to the website. Several Committee Members of MVWG attended a workshop on Non-native Invasive Species hosted by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust at Bakewell on 20 January 2012, when the Writer gave an illustrated talk on MVWG’s efforts in the Moss Valley, then a feedback session later in the Spring of 2012. MVWG Committee Members also attended a similar workshop held by South Yorkshire Biodiversity Research Group on 4 February 2012 in Sheffield, where again a short presentation on MVWG ‘s Himalayan Balsam pulling efforts was given by the writer. The Group’s Himalayan Balsam Pulling efforts were again exhibited at local community events. All the above has involved, and continues to involve, a minimum of 7 hours per week overall Administrative Management volunteer time, and during the pull season this increased dramatically during 2012 to a much higher level than that for 2011. Despite this work being carried throughout the calendar year, for statistical purposes Administrative Management volunteer time for the 2012 project has been calculated from the beginning of January 2012 to the end of November 2012. This amounts to at least 55 days of MVWG Management/Administrative volunteer time for the 2012 Project.

MVWG Volunteer Expenses

The cost of all telephone calls directly concerned with Project Management have been absorbed by MVWG members. All volunteers with the exception of those attending with specific conservation volunteer organisations also absorbed their own transport costs to and from the meeting points for pull sessions. It should also be noted that all MVWG Committee Members pay their own telephone costs (both land and mobile) and broadband fees for emails, internet access etc., for calls, emails and all internet matters, and all their own transport costs relating to MVWG and the Moss Valley.

OBSERVATIONS

There is now very little farming stock grazing land in the Moss Valley for various reasons. The 2012 pull has confirmed our observations from 2011 that there is increasing and continuing evidence that Himalayan Balsam can and does grow in drier areas, especially in ungrazed enclosures and drier woodlands, not just in damp areas and along watercourses. Once established, Himalayan Balsam grows rapidly in the field margins left uncut as part of the Countryside Stewardship Agreements and Single Agricultural Payment. It is becoming increasingly difficult to access these margins as Brambles, Nettles, Hogweed and Shrubs are taking over. Money has had to be spent on extra protective clothing to replace garments that are easily torn, no matter how tough the material, as people have to clamber amongst brambles etc in order to reach the balsam that has a tendency to grow in the most inaccessible spots. However, yet again, it has been noted that where the Himalayan Balsam was pulled around the edges of field margins in 2011, there has been a massive decrease in the amount of Himalayan Balsam growing in these areas during 2012 and this has once more left more land clear to enable those farmers who utilise their enclosures for agriculture to gain a larger land area for crop or pasture use. During 2012, it has again been noted that Himalayan Balsam appears to have a timed growth span. On areas that have been regularly pulled since 2009, even very tiny amounts of seed that have been left behind definitely has a growth pattern of emerging plants during April/May, June/July then August/September through to October. It is the opinion of those MVWG members who attend regular Himalayan Balsam Pulls on a twice weekly basis, that Himalayan Balsam seed definitely lies dormant for as long as five years. Pulling in one particular small area took place on a regular basis throughout early Summer of 2012 with yet more plants emerging during late Summer where there had been absolutely no evidence a fortnight before of even the smallest plant in the sward. The extremely dry conditions during the Spring of 2012 led to an apparent weaker growth than 2011. However the record breaking wet Summer led to an enormous eruption of growth during the wet but warmer months of late Summer/early Autumn especially in the newly discovered growth areas of 2011 and 2012. After the initial shock of returning from holiday to find huge swathes of flowering balsam where none was present before led yet again for those few people involved, to much hard work to keep pace with this. As previously stated, there has been a definite ongoing improvement in the reduction in growth from 2011 especially in areas that had been pulled previous to and including 2009, in the area from Ford to what is known colloquially as “white bridge”. Regular “weeding” sessions comfortably kept up with the growth. Continuing improvements are evident in the amount of Spring and Summer flora species and variety particularly in the marsh areas. It has been gratifying to observe the continued strong growth of Ancient Acidic Woodland Indicator Spring flora along the banks of the Moss Brook and in woodland where a few years ago there was bare ground. The rarer plant species continue to expand in Derbyshire area of the SSSI, with extra plants for the Sheffield SSSI section being recorded. Unfortunately, there is concern that rarer plant species are being “collected” or dug up and for this reason a species list is not included with this report but is being sent to those officials and individuals on a “need to know” basis.

POSITIVE FEEDBACK

Yet again, it has been gratifying to note the continued thanks and positive comments from the both the local farming community and members of the public who live in/around and utilise the Moss Valley. Local farmers have voiced their thanks for help with an overwhelming task initially not of their making and several farmers, after seeing the results of our efforts, are continuing to take a keen interest in trying to ensure that Himalayan Balsam growth doesn’t re-occur on their land by pulling small areas themselves and to take on extra Higher Level Stewardship Agreements with Natural England/DEFRA. Other land owners are taking responsibility for pulling Himalayan Balsam themselves, and in several cases actually joining MVWG, now they are aware of the damage it is causing downstream of their properties after discussing the situation with MVWG. Even more local dog walkers and other members of the local community who daily take the same route consistently comment regarding the ongoing improvement as they continue to enjoy the Moss Valley SSSI. All these people are still continuing to enjoy ongoing renewed growth of wild flowers, ferns and grasses. Many are now trying to actively identify the glorious array of flora and are encouraging their children/families to do so, asking the advice of those doing the Himalayan Balsam pulling on various species and comparing notes and observations. One local resident has joined MVWG and is actively managing not only his own land but has rented a portion of nearby land via Sitwell Estates, in order to manage this for wildlife and will be controlling Himalayan Balsam on this section. By carrying out the Big Pull 4 Himalayan Balsam Pull during 2012, MVWG has continued working to ensure that the local population of North East Derbyshire and South East Sheffield, in addition to all manner of users of the Moss Valley including family groups, rambling clubs, running clubs, horse riders, mountain bikers, birders, botanists, invertebrate, mammal and fungi specialists, fishermen and many individuals, as well as those from further afield, to continue to enjoy and benefit from the improved biodiversity in the Lower Moss Valley.

CONCLUSION

Finances for 2013

Moss Valley Wildlife Group will be using committed funding to pay for Sheffield Conservation Volunteers to attend on five occasions between June and September 2013. Hopefully it will be possible to continue to utilise the services of Derbyshire County Council Countryside Service Volunteers & Staff and Sheffield Landscape Trust Volunteers and Staff for a couple of occasions each in 2013, although it is realised there are massive local authority funding issues for the future. Our first “official” pull with Sheffield Conservation Volunteers has already been arranged for Sunday, 9 June 2013 and as stated above, for another four dates wherever there is greatest need to pull Himalayan Balsam. Unfortunately MVWG together with many other similar organisations, is having to cope with the demographics of a rapidly ageing membership with very few people of a younger age group willing to be involved in any of its activities. The average age of the half a dozen MVWG members regularly involved in Himalayan Balsam pulling is 70 years, all of whom are suffering increasing health problems . Although very willing and wanting to be involved with this exhausting task all are finding it difficult to continue. For this reason, The “Big Pull 5” Himalayan Balsam Pull in 2013 will be the fifth and final year of MVW’s Himalayan Balsam pulling project in the Moss Valley.

The Committee of MVWG is extremely concerned that all the hard work done over the last ten years and particularly during the last five years will come to nothing if Himalayan Balsam continues to grow after 2013 on the sites already dealt with, spreading into other areas of the Moss Valley. In addition there is the very real worry that growth of Himalayan Balsam on land upstream of the Moss Valley SSSI where MVWG have been refused permission to enter will NOT be dealt with as promised, and allowed to spread via watercourses onto other properties, then back into the Moss Valley SSSI. The status of the SSSI could be threatened if annual pulling of Himalayan Balsam throughout the Moss Valley is not undertaken.

Legislation

Now that DEFRA has officially declared Himalayan Balsam to be a Non-Native Invasive Species, it is the responsibility of the landowner or tenant of the land to control the spread of this plant. It is now time for land owners and tenants to take responsibility for Non-Native Invasive Species on their properties, and MVWG has done its best to help those farmers/landowners who do have Himalayan Balsam growing on their land originally through no fault of their own by giving both physical help in clearing Himalayan Balsam from their land and advice for the future, or in cases where it has not been possible to enter onto land where this species is growing, to leave some publicity with the owners. There is now plenty of information available for those in this situation to enable them to take advice and action via DEFRA et al. Those organisations and individuals with whom MVWG has been involved, either have been or will be informed of MVWG’s position post 2013.

RECOMMENDATIONS

• That Natural England, The Non-Native Invasive Species Secretariat, DEFRA, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, the Bio-Diversity Officers for Derbyshire County Council and Sheffield City Council, Sheffield City Council Environmental Planning Officers and South Yorkshire Biodiversity Research Group liaise with MVWG to ascertain where future action and advice on Himalayan Balsam removal and control needs to be taken during 2013 ready for 2014

• That in order to achieve a successful outcome relating to the control of Himalayan Balsam in Sitwell Estates’ owned woodlands in the Lower Moss Valley, further close liaison continues with Sitwell Estates’ Land Agent and their sub-contractors via Forestry Commission, Natural England, The Non-Native Species Secretariat, DEFRA, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Derbyshire County Council and Sheffield City Council’s Biodiversity Officers, Sheffield Environmental Planning Officers and South Yorkshire Bio-diversity Research Group.

CLOSING STATEMENT

Moss Valley Wildlife Group has once more achieved its Aims and Objectives for Himalayan Balsam pulling in the Lower Moss Valley for 2012, expanding the pull east outside the Moss Valley SSSI towards Eckington further than in 2010 and 2011. The large amounts of growth near to the Doe Lane section of the Moss Valley Meadows SSSI have been dealt with so far as possible and that Natural England are aware of any potential problems relating to this growth. The other huge area of growth also discovered in 2011 in the Troway/Geer Lane/Birley Hay complex has again been successfully dealt with. Unfortunately another massive area of Himalayan Balsam was discovered during the Summer of 2012 which was fully cleared and this needs to be a priority for 2013. Plumbley Hall Farm stackyard will need priority attention in July 2013.

The efforts of the previous three years have been sustained by a complete clearance of all known sites both upstream, within and downstream of the Moss Valley SSSI and its immediate environs. There has been at least a two thirds improvement on the amount of Himalayan Balsam growth from 2011 to 2012 in areas that have been pulled on a regular basis since 2009 and before. It is sincerely hoped that all the organisations mentioned above will be able to take a pro-active role in advising land owners and farmers of their responsibilities relating to Himalayan Balsam growth during 2013, in preparation for 2014, on the cessation of Himalayan Balsam Pulling activities by Moss Valley Wildlife Group for their fifth and final year of Himalayan Balsam pulling in 2013.

Celia M Jackson,

Hon Secretary, Moss Valley Wildlife Group November 2012.

SOME PHOTOS OF WORK IN PROGRESS

ECKINGTON, 21 AUGUST 2012

These pictures show how difficult Himalayan Balsam can be if it is left unchecked for some time. This area near Eckington Church was ready to set seed. With the valuable help of Derbyshire Countryside Service - formerly the Three Valleys Project - and the volunteers, we got stuck in and cleared this lot. Thanks!

DERBYSHIRE MARSH SSSI, 29 JULY 2012

Another successful and encouraging day as we cleared Derbyshire Marsh near Eckington. Most of the Himalayan Balsam was growing near the Moss Brook and in the boggy centre, where conditions were very demanding even using waders. This marsh looks so much better now, the natural grasses, reeds and marsh plants are back to strength and the air was buzzing with insects. We spotted several species of butterfly and a dragonfly. Once again the progress made this day would not have been possible without the support from Sheffield Conservation Volunteers, pictured above. Well done folks.

GEERLANE, 22 JULY 2012

Another scorcher. Working in difficult conditions we cleared an area of wet woodland alongside the Moss Brook. A good turnout too. Many thanks to Sheffield Conservation Volunteers and all other volunteers and organisers, without whom this would not have been possible. The Himalayan Balsam was much less dense than in 2011 but some was flowering and needed immediate removal. The Balsam had competition from nettles reaching about seven feet high.

BIRLEY HAY POND, SUNDAY 27TH MAY 2012. What a scorcher! MVWG and Sheffield Conservation Volunteers worked in hot and difficult conditions in the wet woodland, but achieved a great deal by pulling lots of 'immature' Himalayan Balsam. This area was badly infested in 2011, but we noted that there were signs of the return of woodland flora eg red campion. We will return to this area later but it is much improved over last year. Thank you SCV.

HIMALAYAN BALSAM PULL 2011

Over 2,064 hours over 53 pulling days were completed during 2011, making a significant difference over large areas. We are very proud of this achievement, which demonstrates that a determined effort can bring this invasive species under control. We would like to say a big “thank you” to all the members and organisations who took part and particularly to Celia and Terry Jackson, and Keith Pascoe, who dedicated a considerable amount of their time and effort to this project. They should be very proud of the remarkable results they have achieved in the Moss Valley. Well done to all involved.

ABRIDGED REPORT ON THE 2011 BALSAM PULL

A REPORT ON THE MOSS VALLEY “BIG PULL 3” HIMALAYAN BALSAM PULL MOSS VALLEY SITE OF SPECIAL SCIENTIFIC INTEREST LOWER MOSS VALLEY AND TROWAY/BIRLEY HAY/GEER LANE AREAS MAY TO SEPTEMBER 2011

By Celia Jackson January 2012

AIMS & OBJECTIVES

Moss Valley Wildlife Group’s Aims and Objectives for Himalayan Balsam Pulling in the Lower Moss Valley during 2011 were to consolidate the work undertaken during the previous two years, and again pull more areas (outside the SSSI) that hadn’t been dealt with in the previous two years.

THANKS FOR FINANCIAL AND PHYSICAL HELP & ADVICE

Our challenge for 2011 would have been impossible to achieve without all the financial, administrative and sheer physical hard work and help received from the following: A further request for funding was made to Councillor Steve Pickering, the then Chair of the Three Valleys Steering Group, who very kindly arranged for a grant from the Derbyshire County Council Community Leadership Fund for £1,000 to be given to MVWG. In addition during 2010, Eckington Rotary Club gave a donation of £100 towards the cost of the 2011 Balsam Pull. The 2011 monies from the Community Leadership Fund made it possible to hire Sheffield Conservation Volunteers for the four sessions they had available from May to September 2011. Again, SCV were to give “best value” for the monies to hand. The donation from Eckington Rotary Club enabled the purchase of first aid supplies etc.

As stated above, David Sinclair and the team from Sheffield Conservation Volunteers helped us for a second year on four occasions, 19 & 26 June, 24 July and 21 August 2011, giving their time to make a tremendous impact on the reduction of Himalayan Balsam with all their sustained hard work and advice on pulling days. We were also fortunate in receiving help from University of Sheffield Conservation Volunteers who gave up valuable time during their exams to attend the first “official” pull session on 28 May 2011. Enterprise-Rent-A-Car corporate volunteers attended for a second year with Three Valleys Project Volunteers and DCC Countryside Rangers on 21 June 2011. Three Valleys Project Volunteers and DCC Countryside Rangers attended again on 16 August 2011. Several of the Three Valleys Project Volunteers are long standing and experienced workers who gave much valued and badly needed assistance. Also attending on 16 August 2011 for a second year were the Renishaw Hall Gardeners who make a fantastic contribution in sheer speed and pulling capacity. Sheffield Landscape Trust Volunteers and Staff also attended on 8 and 24 August 2011. Local Authority Supervisory Staff also helped to pull Himalayan Balsam. Therefore many thanks to Adrian Burke & Kevin Hill of Sheffield Landscape Trust, and to Paul Bown, Louise Bird, Mick Hodgetts & Richard Riley of Derbyshire Countryside Service for their help. Thanks also to Gemma Gregory of Derbyshire County Council Countryside Service (previously Three Valleys Project), Sally Pereira the Sheffield City Council Landscape Planning Officer and Debbie Alston the Lowland Derbyshire Biodiversity Action Plan Officer , for their help with “background” administrative advice and assistance relating to their respective local authority areas in the Lower Moss Valley.

Post pull, many thanks to Sheffield City Council’s Biodiversity Action Plan Officer, Brian Armstrong, and Sheffield City Council’s Species Monitoring Officer, Michael Senkans, for taking the time to come along on a field visit to inspect the Sheffield section of the Moss Valley SSSI and its surroundings, and for giving much helpful advice together with up to date named links to Natural England and the Environment Agency.

Finally, many thanks must be extended to MVWG Committee Members and to all those MVWG members and friends who gave up their time to help with the project in various ways. Several MVWG Committee Members were unable to attend due to health reasons but assisted in other ways, particularly Dave Walker who kept our finances in strict order and emailed members with the latest pull dates, and Philip Wibberley & Jonathan Webster who ensured dates were advertised in the Group’s publications and website. Especial thanks must be made to Terry Jackson and Keith Pascoe who attended just about every pull session. Many thanks are due to other MVWG members who came along regularly these being Alan Webber, Chris Garlick, Ava Teasdale and Jonathan Webster. Many other members and friends who also helped included Peter Robinson, Jean Kilner, John & Jenny Gittins, John & Joan Moxon, Maureen Pascoe, Doug Hindmarsh, Jason Travis, Christine Gare and Sheila Routledge. Thanks to MVWG member, Gerry Gott, who “adopted” his own patch and pulled Himalayan Balsam on a regular basis in that enclosure. Many thanks also to all those MVWG members and members of the local community who pulled Himalayan Balsam on an ad hoc basis whilst walking in the Moss Valley. If anyone who has helped hasn’t been named, then please forgive the oversight, as everyone’s help has been very much welcomed and appreciated.

METHODOLOGY

Lower Moss Valley (MR SK48/58 402804 – SK47/57 431799) As in 2010, before commencing the project, verbal permission was sought from all land owners and tenant farmers in the Lower Moss Valley in order to enter their land.

The previous year’s experience had shown that pulling needed to commence earlier than in 2010, so MVWG “informal” pulls commenced on 3 May 2011 on the Derbyshire side of the Eckington end of the Moss Valley, continuing with a further 6 pulls from both the Ford and Eckington areas, before the first “official” pull involving outside organisations, this being with Sheffield University Conservation Volunteers on 28 May 2011. Pulling continued throughout the Spring, Summer and Autumn until 22 September 2011, when many MVWG members provided a magnificent effort. On that day, a member of the public informed the team of a further location of Himalayan Balsam growth that was subsequently dealt with by Keith Pascoe the following week.

The Moss Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) stretches from Ford in the west to Eckington in the east, a distance of approximately three linear miles following the course of the Moss Brook. Pulls were made both inside and outside the Moss Valley SSSI, working from the “outside” in towards the Moss Brook. Pulling in this area was necessary at least two to three times per week throughout the pulling period.

Our first pull commenced within a small section within Ince Piece Wood. There was lots of growth here where other ground flora was almost non-existent, and it was deemed necessary to pull as much balsam as possible before it flowered to ensure that spread didn’t occur further into the main area of Ince Piece Wood. Several pulls were made in this location during 2011.

We were delighted to note that the two years’ previous efforts were showing great success. The hedgerows, arable/pasture farmland edges, “oxbow” meadows, small wooded areas and riverside margins alongside the Moss Brook, both inside and outside the SSSI, from Ford (MR SK48/58 402804) downstream (east), especially around the Never Fear Dam area (MR SK48/58 411803), to around the Twelve Acre Wood area (MR SK48/58 413802) only needing weeding on a monthly basis. It is estimated that growth of Himalayan Balsam in these locations had reduced by approximately 80% from 2010. Similarly in another location heavy growth needing a great deal of effort in 2010 was cleared in 2011 by attending on only two occasions.

Pulling at the Eckington end of the Moss Valley showed an initial similar result of an 80% reduction. However continuous work was needed to remove the Himalayan Balsam from the marsh areas, hedgerows, woodlands and along the field and Moss Brook margins. Growth had always been much denser in these locations, so although it appeared initially that a similar success rate to that from Ford had been achieved, much more hard work from constant new growth was needed to clear these sites. In the wooded areas alongside the Moss Brook the situation was greatly improved from 2009/2010. Due to dangerous conditions it was almost impossible to enter into the abandoned dam areas in 2009. However during 2010 it was possible to work in these areas mainly on the “Derbyshire” side for the first time, particularly with the help of Sheffield Conservation Volunteers (for the Sheffield area), Renishaw Hall Gardeners and Three Valleys Project Volunteers and Staff. Waders, Life Jackets, Safety Lines, Hi Visibility Vests and Gloves were utilised where necessary. A vast improvement in the reduction of balsam growth was noted during 2011 and due to the drought conditions in the Moss Valley during the Spring and Summer of 2011 it was possible to revisit these areas with experienced volunteer help from both Three Valleys Project Volunteers & DCC staff, together with Renishaw Hall Gardeners, and clear further into areas that were previously impossible to enter. Due to the drying out of this area corporate volunteers from Enterprise-Rent-A-Car were also able to assist. Again, many thanks to all those involved in this section.

In the Sheffield area of the Lower Moss Valley, Sheffield Landscape Trust (SLT) Volunteers and staff continued the previous year’s excellent work around Plumbley and West Mosborough and alongside the Moss Brook in the Sheffield section of the SSSI. Due to the breakage of a sewage pipe, since fully repaired, near to “Sheffield Marsh”, it was not possible to allow SLT personnel into that area, however, MVWG members managed to fully clear the marsh during 2011. For the first time in living memory members were able, with care, to walk fully across “Sheffield Marsh” in order to pull the balsam.

“Derbyshire Marsh” was fully cleared during 2011 except for one tiny patch that was far too dangerous to attempt even with life jackets and life lines. Many thanks to Sheffield Conservation Volunteers for this work with visits to this challenging location. The field margin outside and to the east of the SSSI from Mill Lane/Back Lane/Gashouse Lane to Eckington Church Steps was cleared twice.

Troway/ Geer Lane/ Birley Hay complex (MR SK27/37 388797 – SK28/38 398803) In 2009 the “Big Pull Project” was advertised throughout the whole of the Moss Valley with the widespread distribution of illustrated “flyers” informing the public of Himalayan Balsam and its effect, containing a request that if anyone knew of Himalayan Balsam growing in the Moss Valley to contact those mentioned on the flyer. Only one report of Balsam Growth was reported from the Troway area, upstream and west of the Moss Valley SSSI, and it was stated that this had been dealt with. In 2010 a MVWG member reported a small area of growth in the Troway area that was subsequently pulled by that person. In 2011 the same person then reported Himalayan Balsam growing alongside a field footpath and the previously mentioned patch in the Troway area. MVWG members dealt with the two reported areas immediately.

Meanwhile in July 2011, whilst requesting permission from a farmer to pull a small isolated patch of Himalayan Balsam from an island in the middle of the Moss Brook near Ford, it was reported that Himalayan Balsam was growing near Geer Lane, to the west and upstream of the Moss Valley SSSI. As this would have a negative impact on the extremely successful outcome in the Lower Moss Valley the area was explored with permission from the respective land owners and tenant farmers. The MVWG field study on private and hitherto inaccessible land showed a massive potential problem stretching from the south at Troway via a small watercourse downstream to the Geer Lane and Birley Hay areas of the Moss Valley, upstream and west of the Moss Valley SSSI.

As a matter of urgency, in addition to working with outside organisations on programmed dates, and putting in extra ad hoc MVWG dates in the Lower Moss Valley, the majority of pulling by MVWG and programmed pulling with Sheffield Conservation Volunteers was transferred from the Lower Moss Valley to the Troway, Geer Lane and Birley Hay complex with the permission of landowners, and the help of some who preferred to pull growth on their own land. Work started in these areas on 27 July 2011 and continued until 15 September 2011, involving 18 pulling days with help from Sheffield Conservation Volunteers. Except for one small area where MVWG were unable to work due to lack of permission to enter the land, 99% of the Himalayan Balsam growth was pulled. This involved forays in jungle-like conditions, including “uncharted” and unmanaged woodland, bog, marsh, and despite the drought, deep water, or shallow water with undisclosed depths of mud and mire on the bed of the Moss Brook, together with the potential of falling into Birley Hay Dam, pulling massive amounts of Himalayan Balsam growing to tree height. The balsam must have been in situ in these locations for around 5 years. To EVERYONE who braved these appalling conditions, a huge “THANK YOU”.

2011 was a resounding success. With the exception of the tiny area in “Derbyshire Marsh” mentioned above, the whole of the Moss Valley SSSI and the surrounding environs of the Lower Moss Valley were fully cleared of Himalayan Balsam officially by 22 September 2011. Not only having cleared the whole of the Lower Moss Valley SSSI and the area immediately outside of same but, it is believed, 99% of the whole of the Troway/ Geer Lane/ Birley Hay complex was also cleared. This was a fantastic effort by everyone concerned.

VOLUNTEER ”PULL” TIME SHEFFIELD AND DERBYSHIRE COMBINED

Actual pull days from 03.05.11. – 22.09.11. TOTAL DAYS 60. Volunteer numbers (actual attendances) 03.05.11. – 22.09.11. TOTAL ATTENDANCES 267. Volunteer hours 03.05.11. – 22.09.11. TOTAL HOURS 1,239. Volunteer days (conversion based on 7 hours per day) TOTAL VOLUNTEER DAYS 177. Number of bags pulled based on 1 ton capacity rubble bags x 2 bags x per person average Lower Moss Valley, Derbyshire & Sheffield (392). x 6 bags per person average Troway/Geer Lane/Birley Hay complex (426). TOTAL BAGS 818.

DERBYSHIRE Lower Moss Valley Actual pull days from 03.05.11. – 22.09.11. 28 Volunteer numbers (actual attendances) 03.05.11. – 22.09.11 128 Volunteer hours 03.05.11. – 22.09.11. 616 Volunteer days (conversion based on 7 hours per day) 88 Number of bags pulled based on 1 ton capacity rubble bags x 2 bags per person per day 256

Troway/Geer Lane/Birley Hay complex Actual pull days from 29.07.11. – 15.09.11. 16 Volunteer numbers (actual attendances) 29.07.11. – 15.09.11. 71 Volunteer hours 29.07.11. – 15.09.11. 336 Volunteer days (conversion based on 7 hours per day) 48 Number of bags pulled based on 1 ton capacity rubble bags x 6 bags per person per day minimum 426

DERBYSHIRE TOTAL Actual pull days from 03.05.11. – 22.09.11. 44 Volunteer numbers (actual attendances) 03.05.11. – 22.09.11. 199 Volunteer hours 03.05.11. – 22.09.11. 952 Volunteer days (conversion based on 7 hours per day) 136 Number of bags pulled based on 1 ton capacity rubble bags x 2 bags per person per day Lower Moss Valley (256) and x 6 bags per person per day Troway/Geer Lane/Birley Hay complex (426) 682

SHEFFIELD – Lower Moss Valley Actual pull days from 03.05.11. – 22.09.11. 16 Volunteer numbers (actual attendances) 03.05.11. – 22.09.11. 68 Volunteer hours 03.05.11. – 22.09.11. 287 Volunteer days (conversion based on 7 hours per day) 41 Number of bags pulled based on 1 ton capacity rubble bags x 2 bags per person per day 136

The pulled balsam was left TO ROT DOWN NEAR TO WHERE IT HAD BEEN GROWING, but away from watercourses and potential vulnerable flash flood areas. There will be no movement of the pulled material nor will it be composted.

In the Lower Moss Valley, as previously stated, there was much less to pull in 2011 and it was possible to pull all the balsam that was reachable. The amount of growth in the Troway/Geer Lane/Birley Hay complex was at the levels seen in 2009 in the Lower Moss Valley. Due to the difficult terrain, in the latter area it was sometimes necessary to either cut or smash down the Himalayan Balsam down to prevent seeding.

PROTECT MANAGMENT VOLUNTEER TIME

During the latter part of 2010 and during 2011 much background administrative work was carried out by MVWG Committee Members.

Hon MVWG Treasurer/Membership Secretary

Ensuring grant funding was managed and spent appropriately, checking and paying invoices from Conservation Volunteer organisations, ongoing communication with DCC officials, the provision of regular financial updates relating to the project for and at MVWG Business meetings, regularly emailing MVWG members regarding pull sessions, constant liaison with MVWG Hon Secretary.

Hon MVWG Secretary

Obtaining verbal and emailed permissions from landowners and tenant farmers to enter on to their land; liaison on a regular basis with local farmers for access to pulling sites: general correspondence and emails; written and telephoned liaison with local authority staff, particularly Derbyshire County Council Countryside Service (formerly Three Valleys Project), Lower Derbyshire Biodiversity Action Plan Officer, Sheffield City Council’s Biodiversity Action Plan Officer, Sheffield City Council Landscape Planning Officer, Sheffield City Council Ecology Unit staff, Sitwell Estates’ Land Agent; reports and updates to MVWG Committee at Business Meetings, the DCC Countryside Service, a member of Three Valleys Steering Group, South East Sheffield Countryside & Eco Advisory Meetings; production of notices; preparation of species lists.

MVWG Committee

Since the introduction of MVWG’s Website in 2011, committee members Jonathan Webster, Phil Wibberley and Dave Walker have set up a “Tab” for information on Himalayan Balsam Pulling and well as including photo’s of balsam pulling events and species noted during balsam pulling days for the website Gallery. Committee members Jean Kilner, Peter Robinson, Dave Walker, Phil Wibberley, Jonathan Webster, Keith Pascoe, Terry & Celia Jackson, and MVWG member Jenny Gittins also attended a conference on Non-native Invasive Species hosted by South Yorkshire Biodiversity Research Group in January 2011 at which a representative from DEFRA gave a presentation. Committee and MVWG members also attended publicity days at various events throughout the year when MVWG’s Balsam Pulling efforts were exhibited. All the above has involved, and continues to involve, a minimum of 7 hours per week overall Administrative Management volunteer time, and during the pull season this increased dramatically. Despite this work being carried throughout the calendar year, for statistical purposes Administrative Management volunteer time for the 2011 project has been calculated from the beginning of January 2011 to the end of November 2011. This amounts to 47 days of MVWG Management/Administrative volunteer time for the 2011 Project.

MVWG Volunteer Expenses

The cost of all telephone calls directly concerned with Project Management have been absorbed by MVWG members. All volunteers with the exception of those attending with specific conservation volunteer organisations also absorbed their own transport costs to and from the meeting points for pull sessions. It should also be noted that all MVWG Committee Members pay their own telephone costs (both land and mobile) and broadband fees for emails, internet access etc., for calls, emails and all internet matters, and all their own transport costs relating to MVWG and the Moss Valley.

OBSERVATIONS

There is now very little farming stock grazing land in the Moss Valley for various reasons. As stated in the 2010 report, there is increasing evidence that Himalayan Balsam can and does grow in drier areas and not just in damp areas and along watercourses. Once established, Himalayan Balsam grows rapidly in the field margins left uncut as part of the Countryside Stewardship Agreements and Single Agricultural Payment. It is becoming increasingly difficult to access these margins as Brambles, Nettles, Hogweed and Shrubs are taking over. Money has had to be spent on extra protective clothing to replace garments that are easily torn, no matter how tough the material, as people have to clamber amongst brambles etc in order to reach the balsam that has a tendency to grow in the most inaccessible spots. However, it has been noted that where the Himalayan Balsam was pulled around the edges of field margins in 2010, (these getting wider than the statutory measurement due to the presence of the aforementioned species) this has left the land clear and it has been possible for farmers to utilise this extra perimeter yardage more fully for crop/pasture use.

Once again, it has been noted that Himalayan Balsam appears to have a timed growth span. Whilst taking into account that dormant seed from the time before 2009 may still be around, the seed that is still in situ appears to start growth in April/May, June/July then August/September through to October in some cases. This has now been noted by other Himalayan Balsam Pull organisers. It is still the opinion of MVWG that Himalayan Balsam seed can lay dormant for much more than three years and it is thought this could possibly be as long as five years. However to combat this, monthly “patrols” were brought into play.

Due to the extremely dry conditions during the Summer, balsam growth at first appeared to be weaker than in 2010. However in late Summer/early Autumn, with a small amount of rainfall, the balsam immediately produced large amounts of late flowering growth that appeared to flower and seed exceedingly rapidly. Much hard work was needed to keep pace with this. Notwithstanding, there has been a definite improvement in the reduction in growth from 2010, in the area from Ford to what is known colloquially as “white bridge”. A monthly weeding session comfortably kept up with the growth. The amount of Spring and Summer flora was again much improved and there was a definite improvement in the botanical species and variety particularly in the marsh areas. It has been gratifying to observe the continued strong growth of Ancient Acidic Woodland Indicator Spring flora along the banks of the Moss Brook and in woodland where a few years ago there was bare ground. Despite the very dry conditions, Broad Leaved Helleborine continued to expand and flourish in the woodland, woodland edges and field margins in Derbyshire, the first record for Sheffield being particularly rewarding, where only last year that section was choked with Himalayan Balsam.

A species list for the 2011 Himalayan Balsam Pull, for both the Sheffield and Derbyshire section of the Moss Valley SSSI and its environs, and for the Troway/Geer Lane/Birley Hay complex has already been sent to the appropriate organisations.

POSITIVE FEEDBACK

It has been gratifying to note the continued thanks and positive comments from the both the local farming community and members of the public who live in/around and utilise the Moss Valley. Local farmers have voiced their thanks for help with an overwhelming task initially not of their making and several farmers, after seeing the results of our efforts, are now taking a keen interest in trying to ensure that Himalayan Balsam growth doesn’t re-occur on their land by pulling small areas themselves. Other land owners are taking responsibility for pulling Himalayan Balsam themselves now they are aware of the damage it is causing downstream of their properties after discussing the situation with MVWG. Regular local dog walkers and other members of the local community who daily take the same route consistently comment that they thought Himalayan Balsam removal was an impossible task but that MVWG have proved that growth can be reduced, and they are now experiencing much of the Moss Valley SSSI as it used to look a few years ago. All these people are now enjoying the renewed growth of wild flowers, ferns and grasses as they walk along, going home with a much better “feel good” factor. Now that many individuals have observed our work they feel more confident about helping to pull the Himalayan Balsam as they progress along their route. Some are now on first name terms with those members of MVWG who have regularly attended the pull sessions over the last three years, alerting us to new patches of growth away from Rights of Way. Even better, several members of the public have joined MVWG as a result of what they have seen us do and want to become part of doing something positive for their own local patch of countryside. By carrying out the Himalayan Balsam Pull during 2011, MVWG has worked to ensure that the population of North East Derbyshire and South East Sheffield, as well as those from further afield have continued to enjoy and benefit from the improved biodiversity in the Lower Moss Valley.

CONCLUSION

Finances for 2012

Moss Valley Wildlife Group intends to use committed funding to pay for Sheffield Conservation Volunteers to attend on eight occasions between June and September 2012, and for University of Sheffield Conservation Volunteers to help on the first “official” pull with SCV on 20 May 2012. Just about all SCV’s spare sessions have been booked for Himalayan Balsam Pulling in either the Lower Moss Valley or in the Troway/Geer Lane/Birley Hay complex. It is not MVWG’s intention to apply for further funding. 2012 will be the fourth year of balsam pulling, and if there are any spare monies left at the end of 2012 then it is proposed that the balance will be used to continue to hire SCV in 2013. This will then have completed five years of Himalayan Balsam pulling under this project by MVWG.

Legislation

Now that DEFRA has officially declared Himalayan Balsam to be a Non-Native Invasive Species, it is the responsibility of the landowner or tenant of the land to control this plant. MVWG now feels it is time to hand over this responsibility to landowners and tenants gradually during 2012 and 2013. MVWG is intending to write to inform the appropriate land owners and tenant farmers of the situation, but before doing so discussions need to be held with all the relevant stakeholders.

Physical Help For 2012

It is now increasingly difficult to keep up the physical momentum, and it was never MVWG’s intention to be solely responsible for this project. However to keep faith with the funding received via the Awards for All Lottery Fund in 2009 based on a three year project, MVWG has carried on by obtaining its own funding in 2010 and 2011 and has committed to carry on pulling for a fourth year. Around 75% of those members of MVWG who regularly attend the Himalayan Balsam Pulling sessions are now in their late 60’s or early 70’s. Most of the MVWG Committee Members are unable to attend due to ill health, some of these relate to heart problems, knee replacements, glaucoma, diabetes, recent hip fracture and M E. As this task involves working in very difficult and potentially dangerous terrain and is both extremely physically demanding and exhausting, it is well beyond their capability and could create problems on site for both themselves and other members of the MVWG team for Health & Safety reasons.

However, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has secured some funding from DEFRA for work on non-native species control in the Peak District and Lowland Derbyshire areas particularly Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed. (The Moss Valley also suffers from areas of Japanese Knotweed growth that MVWG members are NOT allowed to deal with.) MVWG gave a short presentation, amongst others, on 20 January 2012, to a Workshop organised by DWT regarding invasive non-native species, in order to share experiences relating to Himalayan Balsam control, how they have organised and funded this, what hurdles they have come up against and how they have solved these. Additionally MVWG were informed in November 2011 that the South Yorkshire Biodiversity Research Group (SYBRG) has also received funding from DEFRA to establish a Local Action Network in South Yorkshire to provide co-ordinated support and share skills and knowledge in tackling various invasive species including amongst others, Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed. Committee Members of MVWG will be attending a Workshop relating to this initiative on 4 February 2012.The awarding of this funding links into the Invasive Species Conference held by SYRBG in January 2011 referred to above.

As stated above, Sheffield Conservation Volunteers have been booked for eight sessions in 2012 and possibly for a few sessions during 2013. SCV personnel have now given two years of hard graft and much appreciated advice on Himalayan Balsam whilst on site. University of Sheffield Conservation Volunteers are attending for a second year and will be coming along to our first “official” pull on 20 May 2012. Renishaw Hall Gardeners have attended for two years and have said they would try to come along for a session in 2012. Hopefully local authority funding will be available to allow both Derbyshire Countryside Service Staff along with Three Valleys Project Conservation Volunteers and Sheffield Landscape Trust Volunteers and Staff to be able to attend for a couple of sessions in 2012. A member of Sheffield City Council Ecology Unit has also offered voluntary help for next year. It is believed that Enterprise-Rent-A-Car Corporate Volunteers may also be willing to attend for a third year. Other organisations are also being approached for volunteer help. And, of course, MVWG members have also promised to come along for a further year. WITHOUT THE HELP OF ALL THESE AFOREMENTED ORGANISATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS OUR TASK WOULD HAVE BEEN IMPOSSIBLE.

RECOMMENDATIONS

• That as the urgent meeting of Lower Moss Valley stakeholders did not take place this year, and in order to enable a successful outcome for the work undertaken by MVWG and associates over the previous three years, it is recommended that early in 2012 after the aforementioned workshops, a meeting is organised with the main stakeholders in the Moss Valley with a view to MVWG sending a letter accompanied by a leaflet (a supply of which has been kindly donated to MVWG by the Peak District Authority) about Himalayan Balsam, to every tenant farmer and land owner in the Moss Valley. The letter to explain that MVWG members will no longer be able to assist in the removal of Himalayan Balsam from their land, possibly after 2012, and although MVWG has been actively involved in removing the bulk of this growth on their behalf it should now be the responsibility of the recipients of the letter to prevent Himalayan Balsam spreading.

• That in order to achieve a successful outcome relating to the control of Himalayan Balsam in Sitwell Estates’ owned woodlands in the Lower Moss Valley, it is recommended further close liaison continues with Sitwell Estates’ Land Agent regarding the Forestry Commission Woodland Birds Initiative Grant. The Land Agent’s representative has been informed that even if funding is granted then MVWG will not be able to undertake this work and other conservation organisations should be approached.

• That close liaison with the Peak District Authority and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is recommended as this is paramount in trying to address the issues faced by MVWG.

• That close liaison with SYRBG is recommended for the control of Non-native Invasive Species in the South Yorkshire area and specifically for the Sheffield section or the whole of the Moss Valley.

• That during 2012 and possibly in 2013, it is recommended that MVWG funds support the pulling of Himalayan Balsam by MVWG volunteers and the voluntary organisations already offering their services continues in the areas in the Moss Valley where this species is currently present.

CLOSING STATEMENT

Moss Valley Wildlife Group has yet again achieved its Aims and Objectives for Himalayan Balsam pulling in the Lower Moss Valley for 2011, expanding the pull east outside the Moss Valley SSSI towards Eckington further than in 2010. Unfortunately, the group’s stated fears in the 2010 Balsam Report regarding unconfirmed reports of growth near to the Doe Lane section of the Moss Valley Meadows SSSI have been realised, with a further huge area discovered in the Troway/Geer Lane/Birley Hay complex that has, however, been successfully dealt with, again, utilising holistic methods of removal and control.

Despite MVWG’s concerns regarding financial and physical matters for the continuation of the project into its third year during 2011, a massive commitment by MVWG members and their conservation volunteer colleagues has resulted in an estimated 80% improvement on the Himalayan Balsam growth seen in 2010 in the Lower Moss Valley, and the first year, with an estimated 99% removal of this species further west and upstream of the Moss Valley SSSI. The results of the 2011 “Big Pull 3” should truly show a difference in the Spring of 2012.

Moss Valley Wildlife Group is determined that three years of sustained sheer graft will NOT be wasted. In the Lower Moss Valley MVWG will continue to “weed” areas that are almost clear on a monthly basis during 2012 and will continue with ad hoc pulls in areas where the growth is still thicker. The area higher up the Moss Valley will be the primary target during 2012 to prevent further spreading downstream to the areas already pulled, and to stop yet another SSSI being threatened. Thankfully the DEFRA legislation is now being brought into force and there is hope that MVWG can hand over, with the backing of the relevant National Government and Non-Government Organisations, to land owners and tenants within the Moss Valley, areas that will have a much improved biodiversity since circa 2007.

Celia M Jackson, Hon Secretary, Moss Valley Wildlife Group January 2012

Images of the Balsam Pull 2011

Recent work by volunteers in the Moss Valley (August 2011). We were clearing this badly-infested area (pictured) to stop it spreading downstream. We are winning the battle overall, but some areas still needed attention later in the year. The valley is in much better condition as result of our work this year and in previous years. A big 'thank you' must go out to the volunteers and organisers.

 

 

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