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Space invaders lose the battle in Grantown woods

24th March 2014

Some of The Cairngorms’ most iconic and rare wild flowers are being given the chance of a new lease of life in Old Grantown Wood.
Rhododendrons planted in Castle Grant over 100 years ago are being cleared to allow the rare twinflower and the one flowered wintergreen the space to flourish again.

The clearance marks the final piece of work of the hugely successful Cairngorms Rare Plants Project, and this action is supported by Plantlife Scotland, and Seafield and Strathspey Estates.  The aim is to completely eradicate the rhododendrons to ensure the conservation of the rare pinewood plant populations there.

Martin Price, Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) board member and Chair of the Cairngorms Nature Strategy Group explained, “ Rhododendrons are not native to Scotland, they were brought here in Victorian times and planted for their ornamental value, they are a very invasive species and make it impossible for rare plants such as the twinflower to grow.

The rhododendrons were planted along the drive of Castle Grant in Victorian times and have now spread to cover over four and half hectares.  Rhododendrons poison the soil and have an enormous spread, meaning nothing else can grow, it is vital that we clear them out to allow our rare plants a chance to repopulate the area.”

Stephen Corcoran, Cairngorms Nature Officer said “the work started last week and this will ensure the long-term viability of these important species. Old Grantown Wood is a key area for both twinflower and  one flowered wintergreen and it is hoped the population will expand over time.

In order to be successful the project will require ongoing monitoring and Will Anderson, forest director at Seafield Estate, will continue the work.  He said, “These species are tremendously important to the Cairngorms and we are fortunate to have a site where they can grow.  We are committed to ensuring the rhododendrons do not return by monitoring the area and spraying over the next few years where necessary.”

Funding for this practical work is coming from the Cairngorms Rare Plants Project and Plantlife Scotland, with Seafield Estate to arrange and cover costs of annual spraying.