VOLUNTEERS have put their hand up for some 'balsam bashing' to help protect the environment.

Thames Water employees joined local organisations to combat the growth of the invasive Himalayan balsam plant, which can increase the risk of flooding.

It does this by spreading small seeds and grows in dense strands, which can obstruct flow at times of high rainfall.

Rebecca Elliott, senior ecologist at Thames Water, said: “We’re all responsible for helping prevent the spread of non-native species and it’s essential we adopt the right biosecurity measures to prevent these nuisance guests from becoming more of a problem.

"This means taking steps to make sure good hygiene practices are in place to reduce and minimise the risk of spread, even if the species is not always apparent.”

Thames Water worked with South East Rivers Trust, Action for River Kennet and Loddon Fisheries & Conservation Consultative in Reading and Finchampstead as part of Invasive Non-Native Species Week.