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Oxhey Woods Local Nature Reserve Rhododendron Control Plan

19th September 2011

During June 2011 the Countryside Management Service (CMS), on behalf of Three Rivers District Council (TRDC) carried out a detailed survey of Invasive Rhododendron ponticum in Oxhey Woods Local Nature Reserve, South Oxhey.  Following the fieldwork, a report has been produced to enable a co-ordinated approach and prioritised action to control and eventually eradicate invasive rhododendron from the Local Nature Reserve.

As rhododendron matures the deep shade cast by dense stands of vegetation prevents the natural regeneration of woodland as new tree seedlings cannot become established.  This will mean that new generations of trees cannot develop to replace those lost, with the eventual reduction of woodland cover.

Where extensive stands of invasive rhododendron have become established spring flowers, which are an integral part of ancient woodland such as Oxhey Woods, are severely impoverished.  Dense, impenetrable stands of rhododendron can prevent pedestrian access to a site and make woodland dark & forbidding, which may make people more fearful for their personal safety.

Rhododendron has also recently been identified as the main woodland host for fungal pathogens known to cause the sudden death of Oak and Beech trees.  Hence control of rhododendron can help prevent the spread of these pathogens and reduce the likelihood of the infection spreading through wooded areas.

One of the main areas of mature rhododendron bushes known as the rhododendron walk is found in the southern compartment of Oxhey Woods.  To conserve this valued historic feature it is proposed that the avenue of invasive rhododendron is replanted with less aggressive species of rhododendron in a phased programme, which will ensure that an attractive display of flowers is maintained for many years.

Prior to implementation of any of the report findings, CMS are conducting a six week period of consultation.  As part of the consultation process there will be a walk around the woods to discuss the proposals.  The walk will start at 11am on Saturday 15 October; meet at the reserve car park at the junction of Prestwick road / the Woods and Oxhey Drive.

If you would like to view a hard copy of the report they are available to view at the TRDC office in Rickmansworth, at Watford Rural Parish Council Office in South Oxhey and at the CMS office in Hitchin.