By Suzanne Pender
WORK has begun on an important collaborative environmental project involving Leighlinbridge Improvement Group, Bagenalstown Improvement Group and Carlow tidy towns.
The groups have secured funding from LAWPRO under the Community Water Development Fund to undertake a survey on the prevalence of an invasive species, Himalayan Balsam (HB), along the River Barrow from Carlow town to Slyguff lock, south of Bagenalstown.
County councillors have also come on board with funding support. On completion of the survey, the groups hope to mobilise a team of volunteers to remove the HB.
Unfortunately, it is found in all sections of the river. The project aims to systematically tackle the threat of HB along this stretch of the river.
Invasive non-native species are the second biggest threat to biodiversity after habitat destruction. HB has become pervasive along the Barrow to the extent that it now poses a serious challenge to the wellbeing of the river’s ecosystem.
Its prevalence reduces biodiversity, it results in the reduction of the pollination of native species and bees prefer to visit HB as it produces large quantities of nectar. It also causes erosion of riverbanks after autumn dieback, over time fundamentally altering the watercourses and their ecosystems.
The project is an unprecedented collaboration between three well established community groups in Co Carlow. As such, it represents a significant opportunity to harness the strength and experience of the region’s civic spirit.
The removal of HB will have many benefits for biodiversity along the Barrow. Native flora will once again attract pollinators and a balanced ecosystem will provide a habitat for animals and food and shade for fish.