Rhododendron

Controlling Rhododendron in Bro Ffestiniog

One of the most challenging and ambitious projects Y Dref Werdd are undertaking is to control the invasive species, the Rhododendron ponticum, in different habitats around the Bro Ffestiniog area.

This map shows where the Rhododendron ponticum appears in Ffestiniog area in purple (2011)

The plant is a plague in the area and effects our native plants and wildlife with its ability to grow in various places and to grow very effectively in the Bro Ffestiniog climate.

The plant is originally from south Europe and from western countries such as India and Nepal. This invasive was introduced to the area when it was planted in manor houses without the knowledge of its effectiveness of spreading to every nook and cranny, not only in Bro Ffestiniog, but all around Snowdonia.

It is very happy with dampness, and there is plenty of that in the area, and each plant creates around a million seeds that are spread by the wind, and there is plenty of that here too! The dense leaves and branches means that nothing can grow below it which puts big pressure on our native plants and the ponticum can carry diseases that can destroy them too.

Commencing work on site in Tanygrisiau

So, you can begin to see the reason why Y Dref Werdd is trying to do something about this big problem in Bro Ffestiniog. Over the three years of our Big Lottery project we are to control the plant in three different habitats, and in our first year of the project, our tireless volunteers began work on agricultural land in Tanygrisiau and over the year cleared up to 2.89 acres with over 150 volunteer hours were recorded.

We cut the plants and then dragged them to be burnt on the site in Tanygrisiau with help from Keep Wales Tidy officers with their chainsaws, which makes the work far quicker than using hand saws. The officers then set about treating the remaining stumps with an effective mixture that sets about killing the plant into its roots. We also used the technique of spraying the younger and smaller plants by using pesticides,

After they are cut, we then burn the plants on site

and we will have to return annually to deal with the persistent re-growth by spraying them again.

In our second site, on Llechwedd’s land in the quarry. It was not possible to burn the cut plants because of it locality to the A470 and the number of tourist attractions there, so, following the work of cutting the plants, once again with the help of Keep Wales Tidy officer with a chainsaw and the core of volunteers with hand saws, we used a chipper to break down the cut plants and treated the stumps with pesticide once again. This work is ongoing, and as there is so much work to be done and in a sensitive area taking into account of the slate tips and that the quarry remains a working one, we foresee this project as a long term one.

Commencing work on the second site in Llechwedd quarry

The third habitat Y Dref Werdd are planning on working on with the Rhododendron is private and public gardens in the area. We’re hopeful of working with homeowners to do this work and to spread the message of what effects the plant has on the area. We will also work with groups and those that are responsible of public spaces to clear the invasive from those areas as well.

We’re always looking for volunteers to help us with this work, so if you have an interest being a part of the project, get in touch with us – daniel@drefwerdd.cymru

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