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Forestry Commission Scotland’s efforts to clear rhododendron ponticum from the national forest estate around the Invergarry area will get the finishing touches in February.
The mild, wet west coast weather has meant that Lochaber Forest District has one of the largest and most extensive populations of this invasive plant in Scotland. Over the last 12 months most of the effort has focused on the Garry Pinewood in the west, with work spreading towards the East and the Great Glen.
Creag Liath – which proved to be one of the Commission’s most heavily infested sites – is now ‘rhodo free’, with only one small, road-side strip along the A82 still to be cleared.
Ken Knott, Environment Ranger for the Commission’s Lochaber team said:
“This is the last stage in this clearance effort and we’re looking forward to seeing the back of these shrubs.
“The Commission is aiming to eradicate Rhododendron Ponticum from Scotland’s national forest estate by 2025 because it is an invasive and highly virulent shrub that causes a huge amount of damage to the habitats and environments that it invades.
“Not only does it overshadow everything - preventing new tree seedlings from establishing and smothering native flora – it also harbours phytophthora ramorum, a tree disease that can have a devastating impact on Japanese larch - a commercial crop in Scotland.
“It is a significant threat to our native woodlands.”
So far the Lochaber District team has cleared R ponticum from around 2000 hectares of native woodland across the area. This includes the 150ha Creag Liath, where the work has uncovered some original 19th Century plantings of specimen trees, old archaeological sites (including a later 20th Century dynamite store for the original A82 road building programme) and an old, badly damaged safe – dating back several years to a robbery at the Invergarry Post Office!
Each site once cleared will require several return visits to ensure new seedlings don’t establish and old bushes really have been killed.
Rhododendron Ponticum is a very persistent species, produce several millions of seeds every year that disperse to colonise new areas. Clearing it requires dedication and persistence – one bush can re-infest area up to 500 hundred metres away!
The roadside Rhododendrons will be removed from the approximate 2km stretch of the A82 – north from the picnic site on Loch Oich - over 3 – 4 days, starting on the 18th February. Two squads of workers with chippers will be on site each day (8am – 4pm) and stop/go boards will be used to help ensure their safety, keep traffic moving and keep disruption to a minimum.
Notes to Editors
1. Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment & Forestry Directorate www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland.
2. For news, events and recreation information log on to
www.facebook.com/enjoyscotlandsforests For Twitter: www.twitter.com/fcscotland
3. Tha FCS ag obair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridh coilltearachd Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus a' riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìonadh, a' cumail smachd air agus a' leudachadh nan coilltean gus buannachdan a thoirt dha coimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidh agus, ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh gnàth-shìde. www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland