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Alien plants under attack on the Broads

PUBLISHED: 16:35 26 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:37 05 July 2010

To some gardeners they may seem the perfect colourful addition to their garden. But for conservation officers on the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads rhododendrons pose a direct menace to natural river plant life.

To some gardeners they may seem the perfect colourful addition to their garden.

But for conservation officers on the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads rhododendrons pose a direct menace to natural river plant life.

The invasive pink flowering plants have spread to river ways from gardens and are beginning to choke the life out of other flora because few animals eat them.

On Wednesday a determined fight back against the alien menace took place on the Ormesby Broad, near Yarmouth, as 16 volunteers from power company EDF Energy helped clear half an acre of the killer plant.

If the rhododendrons, which were first bought over from Asia from the 18th century, are left unchecked then plants such as buckler ferns and reed and sedge would succumb to the towering pants, which can reach 5m in height.

The volunteers from EDF used chain and hand saws to hack down the rhododendrons and then burnt the remains.

They will return to the Ormesby Broad, which is part of the Trinity Broads, in a few month's time to make sure no seeds or young plants remained to take root.

Hannah Gray, the Broads Authority conservation officer who oversaw the volunteers, said: “Rhododendrons are not natural to the Broads there are very few creatures which eat them and so they remain unchecked and pose a threat to other plant life.”

Chris Mortimer, an EDF connections field manager based in Trowse, near Norwich, organised the volunteer working party.

He said: “Days spent working on the Broads like this are a great challenge but also very rewarding because we have made a real difference to the countryside. It is also a great way of getting to know each other better.”

Any companies which would like to sign up to the Broads Authority volunteer scheme can call Maggie Engledow on 01692 677020 or e-mail maggie.engledow@broads-authority.gov.uk

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