Dorset

Brownsea Island holds raffle to cut last rhododendron

  • 22 June 2011
  • From the section Dorset
Brownsea Island
Image caption The invasive plant had become a threat to the island's wildlife

A raffle is being held to cut down the last rhododendron plant on the Brownsea Island nature reserve in Poole Harbour.

One person will get to chop down the invasive plant which volunteers have spent the last 50 years destroying.

Abby Gibbs, Dorset Wildlife Trust Warden said: "We have been fighting this plant for many years, as it is a huge threat to the island wildlife."

The winner will make the final cut to the last purple flowering shrub at a special ceremony in the autumn.

Ms Gibbs added: "We are very pleased that after so long, this autumn we will finally be getting rid of the last one.

"This shrub grows so quickly that it suffocates all of our wild flowers and trees that many native species depend on, such as butterflies and birds."

Rampant rhododendrons

The 101 hectare (1km square) island became overrun with rampant rhododendrons after its previous owner, Mary Bonham-Christie had allowed the island to return to nature.

The National Trust took over the island's management in 1961 when Brownsea was donated to the Treasury in lieu of death duties from her estate.

As machinery would disturb the island's wildlife, each of the mature plants have been removed by hand.

Using saws, weekly groups of volunteers have gradually removed the rhododendron which had begun to cover the island, many of which were the size of trees.

The wooded nature reserve is home to Sika deer and about 200 endangered red squirrel.

The money raised from the raffle will go towards further conservation work across Dorset.

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