A six-year scientific research project was coordinated by a Steering Committee for the project which included Defra and the Environment Agency, and scientific advisers from the University of Reading and the Natural History Museum. The purpose of the project is to determine whether natural control is a feasible method for the long-term, sustainable management of Himalayan balsam in Great Britain. The research is being carried out by CABI.
A number of surveys were conducted within the native range of Himalayan balsam (the Indian and Pakistani Himalayas) between 2006 and 2010. The rust was frequently found causing extensive damage to infected plants and was subsequently imported into CABI’s quarantine facility to undergo safety testing. The rust has been tested on 56 non-target species, plus an additional 11 varieties of some of the more popular ornamental species. These included species that are closely related to Himalayan balsam, ornamental plants and economically important species.