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Sailors' broadside helps clear woodland invader

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: June 05, 2013

If you go down to woods today, it won't be a picnic ... 21 sailors with loppers, saws and clippers have been waging war on a rhododendron infestation

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They are more used to preparing for fighting battles overseas, but aircrew and naval airmen from a Cornish airbase have been waging a war on their own doorstep against a rather nasty rhododendron infestation.

A team of 21 sailors from RNAS Culdrose, near Helston, with loppers, saws and clippers joined forces with the Sustainable Trust, a local woodland and conservation management charity, to tackle two areas of woodland in west Cornwall that had become overgrown with the plant, as well as cherry laurel bushes.

Both have been shown to be poisonous to some grazing animals, as well as diminishing numbers of earthworms, birds and other plants in the infested woodland, so the team was tasked with cutting, piling and burning as much of the unwanted vegetation as possible.

Lieutenant Gareth Neal, from 750 Naval Air Squadron, said: "This has been a great opportunity to get involved with the community. Clearing these woodlands of rhododendrons has been trickier than just chopping down a few bushes. Hopefully others can enjoy our efforts."

It was the first time the Sustainable Trust has worked with RNAS Culdrose. Claire North, a volunteer from the Sustainable Trust, said: "It's fantastic to have well motivated and polite young people willing to give their time to this cause, we've achieved so much."

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