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Lawbreakers of Pärnu to weed Himalayan balsam

Himalayan balsam. Photo: Eike Vunk
Himalayan balsam. Photo: Eike Vunk

In scope of a cooperation agreement between the Environmental Board and the Pärnu probation department of the Tallinn Prison, the dangerous invasive species, Himalayan balsam, will be weeded as community service in Pärnu.

Himalayan balsam is a decorative flowering plant from the Himalayan mountains, which reached Estonia via gardening fans. “The plant with its large purple-pink blossoms may look pretty, but actually it’s one of the biggest nuisances in Europe as well as North America and Australia, because its quick spreading causes local domestic plant species to disappear,” said Eike Vunk, Head Specialist of Species Protection of the Environmental Board.

The species has been entered in the list of invasive alien species of Europe and growing it as well as letting it breed is strictly prohibited. It also needs to be fought in order to keep it from spreading further. Himalayan balsam grows in large dense thickets mostly in humid and semi-shaded borderline communities, for example it can be found by bodies of water, roads and forests.
The Environmental Board is currently polishing up the management plan of Himalayan balsam, prescribing various measures for fighting this species in Estonia. The most important factor is raising awareness, so that people would stop growing this plant in their backyards and taking their garden waste to nature. However, the most effective means of destroying the plant is weeding it out.

“If the plants are weeded before seeds mature, there is hope to get rid of a colony in three years. The most effective ways of weeding and removing the plants are also taught to lawbreakers of Pärnu, who will start work in July in one of Estonia’s largest colonies of Himalayan balsam in Pärnu city, on the banks of Pärnu river,” said Eike Vunk.

“As weeding the plant is a relatively simple and safe undertaking that allows us to contribute to nature conservation and preserving domestic plants, it lines up well with the principles of community service. This is a good opportunity to cooperate between public institutions and the local government in order to benefit everyone," said Rita Vainula from Pärnu probation department.

“This is a good opportunity for Pärnu city to clean the land alongside the river from a dangerous alien species and thereby give work to lawbreakers who can make up for their violations this way,” said Karmo Näkk from the City Property and Maintenance Service of Pärnu City Government.

More information:
Eike Vunk
Head Specialist of Species Protection of the Environmental Board
email: eike.vunk@keskkonnaamet.ee
telephone: 56 996 334

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