Aliens spotted in south Leeds! (Well, sort of …)

BTCV's Steven Swales is pictured balsam bashing

Volunteers from BTCV’s Skelton Grange Environment Centre are set to attempt to drive out the highly invasive Himalayan Balsam from its grounds, in an attempt to eradicate the ‘alien’ species from the site.

As well as ‘bashing the balsam’, the project also involves improvements to ponds, woodland and hedgerows at the Skelton Grange nature reserve, as well as the planting of wild flower meadows in order to increase the biodiversity of the site.

The meadows have been planted with nectar rich wild flowers which are native to the UK, in an attempt to encourage butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects to make a new home at the site. This in turn will help local bird populations and will hopefully encourage the pollinators to lend a helping hand on the centre’s impressive vegetable plot.

This year the centre is growing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and volunteers will be learning a range horticultural techniques and this growing season the centre is hoping to be a world record breaker, by growing the world’s biggest pumpkin. The record currently stands at 1,818 lbs and is held by Canada.

Lee Gibson at Skelton Grange

Lee Gibson, senior project assistant, commented:

“It is amazing the amount of work a dedicated team of volunteers can achieve in a day. Without this valuable help, this invasive species would disrupt the balance of native flora we find on our site.”

The project has been made possible with support from Yorkshire Water through WREN, a not-for-profit business that helps benefit the lives of people who live close to landfill sites by distributing grants for community, conservation and heritage projects.

Skelton Grange Environment Centre is a partnership between the conservation volunteering charity BTCV, and National Grid. The project engages people of all ages with the natural world and inspires them make a positive difference to their community and local environment.

For more information about events and how to get involved, check out the centre’s website at