Skip to content

Battling with an alien on Brownsea

October 23, 2008

For the next 3 days, we would be waging war on Brownsea Island with an alien.  Not from outer space or anything like that – our target would be rhododendron….

Rhododendron can become a problem!!!

Rhododendron can become a problem!!!

Rhody (as we like to call it!) is a huge problem across much of east Dorset, and nowhere more so that on Brownsea.  As a non-native, or alien species, it provides nothing in the way of food for any UK resident fauna.  In addition, it is a very agressive growing plant that shades out other, native, species, and even prevents them getting a chance to grow, by producing toxins into the surrounding soil!   The Rhody on Brownsea has been growing apace since Victorian times and the Island was in grave danger of being completely engulfed in a sea of the stuff – until DWT stepped in and started the long battle to get it under control.Every year, an army of volunteers and corporate groups spend their days cutting down the huge, almost impregnable stands of the stuff.  These are not like the shrub you might have in your garden – these are over 20 feet high!  During the summer months the cut rhody is stacked into huge piles, ready to be burnt.  The peat base however, means that we have to take great care -so we have to wait until the end of October before we can safely burn it all.  That time had now arrived!!

Amanda tries not to reverse off the quay!

Amanda tries not to reverse off the quay!

Thursday was our preparation day.  We selected our fire sites – looking for suitable sized openings in the pine/birch canopy and the set about staring the first of the 13 fires we would use for the next 3 days.  We had a great team of over 30 staff from HM Revenvue and Customs to help us, and they set about the task in earnest.  The aim was to get each fire going for about an hour or so, to clear a safe area around it and make it easier to start the following day.  The team did so well that they even managed to cut some more rhody during the day.

HMRC made a great start for us

HMRC made a great start for us

Day 2 of the burn arrived – and it was the turn of Barclays staff to get really stuck into the wood piles.  Over 120 staff and volunteers going full out soon made a dent in the piles and by the time they left for the boats at the end of the day we could see that we were well on the way to our target of clearing our wood stacks. 

Dale keeps a close eye on a fire!

Dale keeps a close eye on a fire!

The only difficult time I had during the day was trying to do an interview with a BBC Cameraman, whilst Chris, Abby and Amanda did their very best behind the camera to put me off!! 

The Tea Tent is always a popular place!

The Tea Tent is always a popular place!

Day 3 continued the good work, this time with another 150 or so volunteers, mainly from JP Morgan.  The main thrust of our work for the day was to clear the very steep slopes while we had many hands – trying to do it with a normal work party would have been almost impossible. 

Almost clear - the slopes are nearly done

Almost clear - the slopes are nearly done

It was almost timed to perfection – just an hour or so before the finish, the last of the brash was dragged down and onto the fire.

So, 3 days of intensive clearance work on the  Island had done the trick onec again this year.  All the stacks of Rhody are near enough gone, with just one small section to finish off.  Fortunately for us, those good people at Barclays are back again next saturday – so we can even start cutting into the next batch of the alien invader!

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: