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A Revolutionary new method for 'Rhoddy bashing'

Posted: Monday 19 October, 2009 @ 11:51:11

Donald Kennedy at a ponticum demolition site

A new method of getting rid of the highly invasive, non-native species Rhododendron ponticum is being demonstrated at two training days in the Western Highlands.  “Lever and Mulch” is a simple, relatively inexpensive way of getting rid of this problem species, and the Skye & Lochalsh Environment Forum and Wester Ross Fisheries Trust have invited the technique’s pioneers to demonstrate their remarkable rhoddie bashing skills at Kyle of Lochalsh and Inverewe Gardens.


James Merryweather, Chairman of the Skye & Lochalsh Environment Forum, said: “Conventional methods of eradication are labour intensive, hazardous when herbicides are used and also – of particular concern in times of recession – very costly.  After rhododendron, land recovery can be painfully slow.  None of this need be so.


“Gordon French and Donald Kennedy of Morvern Community Woodlands have devised a new method for the eradication of rhododendron that is already putting a stop to its relentless invasions of Morvern, Ardnamurchan and Knoydart.”


Donald Kennedy told us more; “Lever and Mulch is very simple, though those who use it require specific training.  It consists of systematically dismantling rhododendron bushes, using the plant’s own stems as levers, and then covering the place they were growing with their remains, to exclude light and prevent re-growth.  A little work with a hammer then and in the following season is all that’s needed to finish the job.


The events are being hosted by the National Trust for Scotland and Highland Councillor and Highland Biodiversity Partnership Chairperson Audrey Sinclair.  She said: “This method is as eco-friendly as it gets, and can be done by a single fit person using gloved hands, booted feet, bodyweight, hammer, saw, L&M specific skills and a hearty lunch.”


Administrators, landowners, site managers, conservationists and contractors who wish to be rid of rhododendrons are invited to attend these events to see Lever & Mulch in action, discuss the rhododendron situation and give their thoughts on its eradication in the Highlands.


           Thursday 5 November (11am – 4pm): Kyle Village Hall, contact James Merryweather on Tel: 01599 566291, E-mail:



Please note that the event at NTS Gardens scheduled for 7th November has been postponed. We hope to reschedule this ‘hands-on’ event for later in 2009 or early in 2010, and would very much like to hear from anyone interested in learning more about L&M and how it can complement other methods, including the stem injection method. Please contact Peter Cunningham, Tel: 01445 712 899, E-mail .


The events are funded by the Highland Biodiversity Partnership’s Communities Project for Highland Biodiversity, which funded the initial trial onto this method in Lochaber.  It is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, and receives match funding from Highland Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and RSPB Scotland.

Link: Skye and Lochalsh Environment Forum

Notes to Editors:


There are some 600 beautiful rhododendrons in cultivation, but one, Rhododendron ponticum, has escaped from estates and gardens and got thoroughly out of hand in the British countryside.  It is of particular concern in the Western Highlands and Argyll, where some tracts of land have been completely taken over, at the expense of ancient woodland, forestry, river banks and croft inbye land.