Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing
and how to tackle other Invasive Non-native Species

‘Pocket guide’ is very apt as this tiny tome has found its way neatly into my Barbour jacket along with bird guide and travel binoculars! Ready at hand to identify those international interlopers that are causing so much damage to our environment and economy.

Invasive non-native species are broadly defined as plants or animals that have been introduced by the hand of man and are causing real and unacceptable damage.

I was stunned to read that ‘INNS’ cost the UK economy almost 2 billion pounds a year. They have few or no natural enemies so are able to over breed and spread like wildfire, pushing out or annihilating the local flora and fauna.

I hadn’t realised the extent of the INNS invasion until I embarked on a recent birding excursion to Attenborough nature reserve in Nottingham. Despite attempts at its removal, great swathes of Himalayan Balsam choked the lakeside, leaving little room for native species to survive.

Theo Pikes little book scratches at the surface of the problem by identifying the major culprits, the harm they inflict on our environment and the cost to the public in remedial action. Its main influence is that it puts the onus on the reader to take action. Each INNS mentioned has a large paragraph entitled ‘What can I do about it?’ This gives information on direct action. In the case of plant INNS, by spraying glyphosphates (after gaining the landowners permission) and reporting to the appropriate authorities.

Every INNS is allocated a double page spread and is well laid out for quick reference. An identifying photograph heads the first page, while blocks of coloured background highlight important paragraphs. A small row of diagrams gives a ready reference to the range of the problem and the type of remedial action required.

The book touches on invasive parasites and pathogens (maybe the subject for another book!), information on volunteering, projects already up and running and website addresses of useful links.

Finally the inevitable health and safety information, essential to prevent harm to oneself and to stop the unwelcome INNS spreading further.

All in all a worthy little book, small in stature but extensive and enlightening in content.

Definitely one for the bookshelf (pocket) of every environmentally concerned nature lover.

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