|The last cut in a 50 year battle against invasive Rhododendron ponticum is being made this September. Dorset Wildlife Trust is celebrating success in the long war to save the woods of its Brownsea Island nature reserve, which covers just under half of the National Trust owned island in Poole Harbour. Regular volunteer Brian March, from Hamworthy, has won the chance to make the ceremonial cut in a fundraising raffle over this summer.
The large, purple flowering shrub, introduced in the 19th century, soon spread across the island’s woods, suffocating wild flowers and trees and threatening the survival of one of the last remaining red squirrel populations in southern England. Victory has been won thanks to the work of thousands of volunteers over the years, including staff from local businesses, groups from mental health or back-to-work schemes and dedicated individuals such as Brian March.
Good woodland habitat for the precious red squirrels
Abby Gibbs, Dorset Wildlife Trust Warden on Brownsea Island, said: “Brian March represents an incredible volunteer effort since the days of Helen Brotherton, our late President and saviour of Brownsea Island. Thanks to him and countless others, we now have a good woodland habitat for the precious population of red squirrels and can concentrate on protecting them and the other wildlife of the island.”
Any re-growth will be managed by spraying for the next few years. Other important habitats on the Dorset Wildlife Trust nature reserve include the wet woodlands, reedbed and the internationally important lagoon.
Brian March, who works as a geologist, said: “It has been an absolute privilege to have volunteered for the DWT over the last 5 years. I would urge everyone to get involved in whatever way you can from recycling a can every day to putting up a bird feeder or even giving up a day of your time if everyone makes a small effort then amazing things can be accomplished. To have won this competition is a wonderful surprise and an honour”
The final cut of Rhododendron ponticum will be made by Brian March, watched by staff and other volunteers, at 11.30 am on Tuesday 27th September on Brownsea Island. Boats leave Sandbanks at 10.40 (Castello staff boat) or 11am (public Yellow Boat). Please book by ringing Nicky Hoar on 01305 264620 or 07900 402049.
Return boats to Sandbanks leave at 12.30 (Castello from Castle) or 12.15 or 12.45 (Yellow Boats from main quay).
Notes to Editor
Brian March is happy to give interviews in advance or on the day. Please contact Nicky Hoar on 01305 264620 or 07900 402049.
About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
For more information please contact Abby Gibbs or Chris Thain on Brownsea Island on 01202 709445.
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Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.
Brownsea Island is famous for its population of red squirrels
Brian March ready to cut N HOAR