Sunday, 5 October 2014

Rhodi Bashing Returns

It’s that time of year again when we’re out tackling the swathes of rhododendron down West Park drive. In addition to our committed volunteer groups who have cleared and burned vast areas of rhododendron every autumn/winter since the ‘English Woodland Grant Scheme’ project started several years ago, we have also recently welcomed a couple of volunteer work parties from the Coop Bank. Over the course of the two days they spent here to assist with the project, they cleared and burned a substantial section on one of the slopes. The steep topography prevents us clearing by mechanical means, which is why regular volunteer groups and work parties armed with bow saws and loppers are essential to this important conservation project.

Bow saws are typically the weapon of choice for 'rhodi bashing'.

It is beyond doubt that rhododendron is here to stay and will never be totally eradicated from the British countryside, however it is imperative that we do not allow it to thrive at the expense of native habitat. Due to its toxicity and alien status in Britain, few native animal species are known to be associated with rhododendron. To put this in perspective, over 400 insect species are known to be associated with oak trees, which in turn support an array of birds and mammals. Every bit of rhododendron cleared is helping us move towards our principal aim of re-establishing 1.62ha of broadleaf woodland in the West Park drive area of the park to the benefit of countless native species.

Scaling the slopes is no easy task and it requires team work to get the cuttings down and onto the fire.

Significant progress is being made, so a massive thank you is due to everyone who has contributed to the project since its beginning. If progress carries on as it is, the days that this invasive heavyweight has to dominate this area of the park are surely numbered and we can look forward to a resurgence of native flora and fauna.

Volunteers from the Coop Bank enjoying a well earned cuppa.

If the thought of rhododendron rampaging across our countryside annoys you as much as it does us, then why not join one of our regular ‘rhodi bashing’ volunteer groups over the autumn/winter? It’s a great way to contribute towards nature conservation at Lyme and also provides an opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills and keep fit! If you are interested in joining one of our regular groups then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the ranger team by emailing or by giving the rangers office a call on 01663761411. 

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