Some background information on rhodies Rhododendron ponticum is a hardy evergreen shrub with a dense canopy which is native to southern Europe and southwestern Asia. R. ponticum can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions, but it thrives in areas with acidic soils and high humidity (like the conditions we have here on Knoydart!). Even a single R. ponticum bush can reproduce, as they don’t require pollination for some of their means of reproduction, which is why we need to remove every last bush.
Once established, R. ponticum quickly out-competes other plants in the surrounding area. The shade cast by its dense canopy prevents native plant species from growing, which reduces the numbers of animals and fungi associated with these plants. This effect cascades, resulting in an enormous loss of biodiversity in areas where R. ponticum is dominant.
R. ponticum was first introduced to the United Kingdom in the late 18th century to be used both as an ornamental garden plant and to provide cover for game birds on estates. A lack of management over the subsequent centuries has allowed it to colonise vast swathes of the country, and it will require a monumental effort to remove these bushes and restore the natural biodiversity of our countryside. This is why we are asking for your help in achieving the goal of removing R. ponticum from Knoydart.
How you can help us Because of the large area we still have left to search for rhododendrons, the best way in which you can help is to report any bushes you spot when you are out and about on your travels using the form at the bottom of this page. This will allow us to use our time more efficiently, targeting specific bushes (or clusters of bushes) and preventing their further spread across the peninsula.
Filling out a report form Description of where it was found Some useful bits of information you could include when filling out this section are;
An approximate location of where the bush(es) were seen
A GPS location of where the bushes are (If you have a GPS or smartphone with an app such asOS Locateinstalled)
Any nearby landmarks which might help find them
The amount and approximate size of the bushes
Any nearby environmental features (such as burns)
This list isn’t exhaustive, so please add any information which you think could be useful!
Including a picture As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words (or, ideally in this case, a thousand words and a precise GPS location).
Most smartphones have the capability to include location data along with pictures when they are saved. We can use these pictures to plan how we will tackle the reported bushes and plot the locations on an interactive map (similar to the one above), which we can use to quickly find the bushes when we’re out working. If you are unable to include location data with pictures it isn’t a problem, a picture is still useful in helping us familiarise ourselves with the area the bush was found.
A quick guide on how to save location data with your pictures can be found here.
The Knoydart Forest Trust is a Scottish Charity (No:SCO292274)
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