Wednesday 25 January 2012

New Highland Approach to Rhododendron Control

Scottish Agricultural College News Release  - 25th January, 2012.
Event: Rhododendron & Gorse Management Workshops.
Date: Tuesday 7th February Wednesday 8th February, 2012.
Location: Tayinloan Village Hall, Kintyre; Luss Village Hall, Luss.

The march of Rhododendron ponticum across Scotland has been well documented. Over the years the exotic shrub, imported by plant hunters for country house collections, has escaped and spread. According to local SAC Conservation Consultant Helen Bibby, in many areas of Argyll it has become a major issue for farmers and land managers. “Rhododendron infestations can be very severe in some areas smothering all native vegetation over large areas, preventing access, destroying local biodiversity and limiting grazing”.
Now SAC is running two, practical, on farm workshops, one at Tayinloan and one in Luss, to explain the latest thinking on the options to control this very invasive shrub and the grant aid available. They include a new, environmentally friendly technique developed in the Highlands. Both events are funded by the Scottish Government as part of its Biodiversity and Conservation Advisory Activity.
The normal method of rhododendron control involves cutting the bush, burning the brash, and spraying the re growth. However there is an alternative “Lever and Mulch” method, of control, developed in the Highlands by Gordon French and Donald Kennedy of Morvern Community Woodlands.
It involves systematically dismantling the bush using nothing more than hammer, saw, body weight and various techniques. Most plants are uprooted, but any root crowns left in the ground are macerated with a hammer before being mulched with leaves and brash. It means no fires are needed and no herbicides required during the follow up period as re growth is very limited. This ensures the site recovers more quickly. It is a method that has been used with promising results on a number of sites and is now a recognised as appropriate for grant aid.
The first free meeting will be from 11.00am to 3.00 pm in Tayinloan Village Hall, Kintyre and then on Wednesday 8th February in Luss Village Hall between 12.45 and 4.25 pm. Those wishing to attend should come prepared for a local site visit.
Anyone interested in attending should contact Campbeltown SAC office (Kintyre) Tel 01586 552502 or Stirling SAC office Tel 01786 450964.
This event is funded by the Scottish Government as part of its Biodiversity and Conservation Advisory Activity.

Ken Rundle | Senior Communications Officer
SAC (Scottish Agricultural College)
0131 535 4196 
0771 007 9401 |

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