‘Rhoddie’ bashing at the north end of Bute

The first volunteering event of the new year in Bute's community forest was a joint effort between the Bute Community Land Company and the island's new ranger Ian Brown on Thursday, January 8.
The first volunteering event of the new year in Bute's community forest was a joint effort between the Bute Community Land Company and the island's new ranger Ian Brown on Thursday, January 8.

Fifteen members of staff and volunteers braved the weather to hunt for invasive rhododendrons in the site of special scientific interest at the north end of Bute this week.

A surveyor for Scottish Natural Heritage had identified the presence of rhododendron in the community-owned forest during a routine site condition monitoring survey, but unfortunately the survey hadn’t recorded any indication of amount or exact location.

The work party, with representation from SNH, the Bute Community Land Company, the Bute Estate and the community, efficiently carried out a line search of the area of oak and birch woodland east of the burn, heading from the shore southwards until we reached the edge of the dense spruce plantation, removing a few offending rhododendrons along the way.

A brief lunch was taken under the shelter of the dense spruce canopy before the group swept northwards on either side of the steep gully that the stream has formed, clearing a few more bushes from the steep banks.

Only one clump was left uncut: it will require a rope and climbing equipment to access it, but even its days are numbered, as Ian Brown, the new Bute ranger, and Tim Stobart from BCLC are both qualified climbers and know where it is!

Once the area back down the burn to the shore had been cleared the group decided to call it a day, as the keen volunteers from SNH’s Lochgilphead national nature reserves sadly had to catch the ferry and make the journey back.

However Ian and Tim intend to carry out a further survey of additional areas in the near future, and will probably be sending out the burning cross to gather the volunteers for more clearance work here in the near future.

Thank you very much to all of the staff and volunteers from all the organisations involved.