11 Aug SAFFRON BUILDING SOCIETY VOLUNTEERS TO TACKLE ALIEN THREAT TO ESSEX AND SUFFOLK’S RIVERS
Following a recent documentary and subsequent media activity surrounding the pollution and climate issues facing British rivers and a government funding boost announced on 2 August 2021 to help British farmers tackle river water pollution, Saffron Building Society staff volunteered to spend time clearing vegetation that is harmful to the River Stour on the Essex/Suffolk border. With its headquarters based in Saffron Walden, this activity forms part of the Building Society’s regular ecologically-focussed programme where staff volunteer for causes that benefit the community local to its branches.
A group of people standing next to a van
Description automatically generated with low confidenceThis session was guided by The Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust (ESRT), a charity that relies heavily on volunteers to carry out their mission: Conserving, Protecting and Rehabilitating the rivers of Essex and Suffolk. Founded in 2013, the ESRT aims to educate the wider society in understanding British rivers, river corridors, and river catchments, including understanding the fauna, flora and biodiversity of the riverscape.
Claire Hunnable, Saffron Building Society’s Community Business Partner, 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. Our Green Team had a wonderful time being guided by ESRT as we tried to disrupt the reproduction of Himalayan Balsam plants. 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.”
Andy Went, ESRT Project and Catchment Officer, 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.”
On this outing, the Saffron ‘Green Team’ was instructed to remove the harmful Himalayan Balsam plant, an annual herb with explosive seed heads that is native to the west and central Himalayas and was brought to Britain as a garden plant in the early 19th century. It prevents UK native species from growing and can cause erosion of riverbanks, impacting the quality of water and disrupts river species. Removing this plant before it goes to seed means that its spread can be controlled and repeated pulling year on year will clear riverbanks of this pest.
You can find out more about Saffron Building Society’s community projects at the website www.saffronbs.co.uk or to sign up to volunteer for the Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust, visit the website: www.essexsuffolkriverstrust.org.