Contractors, forest managers, landowners and land managers from across Argyll attended an event at Glencreran Estate recently to find out how best to fight off invasive rhododendron.
A rhododendron control demonstration was organised as one of several launch events for the ‘Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust’ (ACT).
ACT is an independent charitable body that takes a collective approach towards maintaining and enhancing shared assets in the area.
The partnership involves Argyll and Bute Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, NHS Highland and the community of Argyll and the Isles.
Bruce Marshall, trustee of ACT, who was chairing the event said:
“Rhododendron ponticum is really nasty stuff – it spreads very quickly, suffocates habitats, hampers biodiversity and it harbours tree-killing phytophthora species. Over a few years it will devastate the ecosystem in any woodland where it takes hold.
“Argyll is one of the Scottish hotspots for this plant and tackling it is important for the area’s habitats, its wildlife and for improving the landscape for visitors and local people. Because such a large area of Argyll is affected, planning and co-ordinating eradication and control action at the scale it needs to happen requires a group effort.
“Each site is different and has its own challenges so it was great to see such a good turn-out on the day. One of the key objectives for ACT is to share ideas on how to care for, enhance and enjoy our environment and this event very clearly explained the why and how of effective rhododendron eradication.”
As well as promoting involvement in ACT activities, the event looked at successes and lessons to be learned from other rhododendron control projects and included demonstrations of conventional and alternative control techniques.
Elaine Jamieson, Policy, Support and Development Officer with Forestry Commission Scotland’s West Argyll team, said:
“In 2011 the commission launched a programme of action to remove rhododendron from the national forest estate completely but the scale of the task is so immense that we set aside 15 years to do it!
“We’ve put some of our experience to good use and have been gathering information on Glen Creran’s rhododendron population and how we might pull together a collaborative control funding bid.
“Having a partnership like ACT focus on this issue is great for Argyll and will have a huge environmental, social and potentially economic benefit.”
For more information about Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust visit www.act-now.org.uk