Brownsea boasts a mosaic of wildlife habitats; from woodland to open heath and seashore to lagoon. The Brownsea Island countryside rangers and volunteers work year round to keep this unique variety of habitats thriving and accessible for our visitors.
Fifty years ago Brownsea Island was swathed in Rhododendron, after the island was left to be re-wilded. The alien plant species originated in the Himalayas and thrives to the exclusion of nearly all other plant life under and around it on the acidic soils of Brownsea. It is invasive and very detrimental to the native flora and fauna of the island. A program of eradication was soon started and has continued ever since. The approach used by the countryside ranger team is to manually cut down the plant to short stumps, burn the cuttings, allow a small amount of regrowth and then spray the regrowth with a specific systemic herbicide.
Eventually, regeneration of native flora begins from dormant and windblown seed as well as that introduced from bird droppings and squirrel caching. We have also had some success by spreading seed bearing heather cuttings.
When you see these barren areas try to imagine how they may look in years to come and bear in mind that rhody supports virtually no other species whereas an oak tree can support up to three hundred species of invertebrate life.