Volunteers help tackle ragwort
The beach at White Park Bay is backed by ancient sand dunes that provide a range of rich habitats for bird and animal life.
One of the main challenges of caring for this spectacular area is controlling the potentially poisonous plant, ragwort.
A local walker, Ross Hamilton organised a volunteer event last week to help the conservation ranger team tackle ragwort at White Park Bay.
A total of 20 volunteers worked with the rangers and were able to clear a full trailer load of the plant from the dunes.
Dr Cliff Henry, Area Ranger explained: 'The farmland around the Causeway and White Park Bay, where we have discovered rare species of plant, animal and fungi, are Areas of Special Scientific Interest which means they must be managed sensitively.
'Fertiliser application is not allowed, the level of grazing is strictly controlled and herbicide is only permitted in exceptional circumstances.
'All that means it is very difficult to control extremely prolific weeds such as ragwort and a lot of our time is spent manually cutting and pulling out tens of thousands of them by hand.’
Ross, who often walks White Park Bay, contacted Dr Henry to co-ordinate an event to help the team with their work.
He said: 'Ragwort is a biennial, with a distinctive two-stage growth. Year one, it has the shape of a ground-lying rosette. Year two, it sprouts and its crown is bright yellow. Each plant releases thousands of seeds. Only by removing most or all of the root system is it meaningfully dealt with.
'The long-term objective is to loosen the stranglehold that ragwort and brambles have on Whitepark Bay. Once achieved, other plants will have their opportunity to re-establish, making it easier to maintain a new status quo.
'We encouraged everyone to bring a picnic on the day and we would provide the tools needed for the work. It was a great opportunity to combine the fun of a picnic with the feel-good factor of giving an hour or so of your time to help clear invasive weeds.'
If anyone is interested in volunteering to assist the conservation ranger team please Email Dr Cliff Henry at: Cliff.Henry@nationaltrust.org.uk