The removal of invasive rhododendron, which was swamping Arrowsmith Coppice and smothering native plants and trees, has created space for the regeneration of wildlife such as heather and purple moor grass, and allowed better access for local people.
Conservation work started in September 2014. It was carried out by staff and volunteers from Borough of Poole and Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) as part of the Great Heath Living Landscape project, with a Community Payback group, and then followed with volunteer work from other groups.
Biodiversity Project Officer, Borough of Poole, Jez Martin said, “We are already seeing benefit from removing the rhododendron with new growth in the area. There is also an area of ancient woodland which has been cleared, meaning that acorns, beech mast, Scots pine seeds, and hazelnuts have the chance of successfully germinating to new trees. Streams in the area have also benefitted from getting more light after the removal of the rhododendron, and the clearing of the area has allowed Borough of Poole to erect bat boxes upon the trees.”
Other wildlife sighted in the area include dragonflies, grey wagtail, butterflies, and roe deer.
Work is still ongoing, but the majority should be finished next March. Clearance by volunteers in more sensitive areas will continue for a few more years. There will also be a requirement for spraying regrowth of the rhododendron that has already been cleared to prevent re-growth.
DWT’s Urban & East Dorset Living Landscapes Manager, Nicki Brunt said, “Not only has wildlife benefitted, but people have too, as the clearance means people can move more freely through the site to see oaks and beech trees and hear woodland and heathland birds. It’s amazing what a partnership project like The Great Heath can achieve, and we’re grateful to all the volunteers who have helped made this happen.”