Building society helps tackle Himalayan Balsam in River Stour

A group of five people - four in Saffron Building Society gear - hold rakes in front of a van

Saffron Building Society staff help clean up the River Stour - Credit: Supplied by Saffron Building Society

An Essex building society is helping to tackle a Himalayan Balsam outbreak in the River Stour.

Saffron Building Society's 'Green Team' trudged into the river to remove the invasive weed with support from Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust (ESRT).

Himalayan Balsam is widely known for its ability to grow quickly, smothering plants already in the river and impoverishing habitats.

The building society, headquartered in Saffron Walden, tackled the plant as part of its investment into the environment.

A woman

Saffron Building Society staff help clean up the River Stour - Credit: Supplied by Saffron Building Society

Claire Hunnable, Saffron Building Society’s community business partner, said: “Our Green Team had a wonderful time being guided by ESRT as we tried to disrupt the reproduction of Himalayan Balsam plants.


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"We know that our efforts will help to improve our local area and protect the native fauna and flora of the River Stour, so that generations to come can enjoy the riverway as we do today."

The River Stour is culturally and biologically important.

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It rises on Wratting Common in Cambridgeshire and runs through Dedham Vale, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty depicted in several paintings by nineteenth-century painter John Constable.

It is home to wildlife which faced population decline in recent years, including otters and the great crested newt.

Saffron Building Society said the action will play into a larger plan for tackling the climate crisis which it wants to roll out across its business.

Claire said: ”At Saffron, it’s more than money.

"It’s about having a positive impact on our local communities and supporting environmental causes that will benefit our members and team."

Andy Went, of ESRT, said: "Our projects are reliant on the goodwill of the people of Essex and Suffolk working to protect their rivers from pollution and a reduction in biodiversity.

"We are reliant on volunteers, whether individuals or organisations like Saffron Building Society, who can spare the time to get involved.

"We are always seeking additional people to help with important projects like the Himalayan Balsam removal and would encourage volunteers to register their interest on our website.”

ESRT is a Finchingfield-based charity. Details about volunteering opportunities are on its website: https://www.essexsuffolkriverstrust.org/support

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