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Help needed to stop destruction of Rhodedendrons and the Bees at Walshaw Reservoirs.

From John Ross

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Yorkshire Water are at it again.

Some clown at head office has come up with a harebrained scheme to wipe out the beautiful flowering Rhodedendrons that are a delight to see when in bloom and provide wildlife habitat all year round.

They have started a systematic and total destruction of the Rhodedendrons at Walshaw Reservoirs. The first phase at Walshaw Dean middle reservoir has been done recently. This has happened right at the time that the birds are nesting.

You would have to see it to believe it !

Not content with hard trimming or keeping the bushes off the road, they have had several people totally destroying whole colonies of these wonderful bushes that are so beloved by the multitudes of bees that live in the area.

Up there on the moors there is no other cover for wildlife and the Rhodies have been there for well over a hundred years originally being planted by the reservoir builders.

The contractors are chopping these huge clusters of picturesque shrubs down to ground level and are destroying them completely in the name of them not being "native plants"

They also seem to be removing the thicker branches as "logs" which will no doubt be sold for firewood !

What these idiots don't realise is that there is not much else that will grow in the poor soil and arduous conditions at that altitude.

There are several conifer plantations in the area, notably the gardens at Walshaw Lodge, and at Walshaw Dean Lodge, which are home to a multitude of interesting birds and other species, but on the reservoir banks only the Rhodies provide any cover at all for bees, bats, owls and many others.

This destruction is total madness and can only lead to problems with the ground around the reservoirs which is held together by the rooting systems. I was told by an old reservoir keeper many many years ago that the shrubs were put in to help with tying the banks which are quite steep in places and Rhodedendrons was the best way to help this because of the network of root behaviour they produce.

Looking at Garden centre prices of these plants I estimate that hundreds of thousands of pounds worth have already been destroyed in this first phase of destruction.

I spoke to a local resident on the estate who told me that he had been accosted by several people who were angry at this work which was going on and that he had spoken to the Contractors who said they were clearing the shrubs because they had been told to do so.
Apparently the former Savile Estate has currently asked them to stop because of the nesting birds, but it is assumed it will continue again after the spring.

Please take a walk up to the middle reservoir and take a look just past the house at Walshaw Dean on the left hand side of middle reservoir at the wasteland they have created where Rhodies used to be it is a very big area and you will see it looks like they have also poisoned the remaining roots and stumps with chemicals

Judge for yourself soon before it is too late, and then hopefully add your voice against this madness.

From Tim M

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

I've always understood that Rhododendron was an invasive species, out competing native species and not providing the same range of habitats as native flora. I imagine its being removed as part of efforts by YW to restore moorland habitats.

From Steve Blacksmith

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

I would agree with Tim M.

If we want the moors to be less grazed, which many wildlife conservationists would like to see, then the Rhododendrons would spread rapidly over the whole moorland, their seeds being adapted to blow in the wind.

There is a much greater variety of Rhododendrons in large gardens and parks, John. I agree they are spectacularly beautiful, at a distance and close up. The variety of sizes, forms, colours, and period of flowering is amazing.

From Andy M

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The clearance work will be part of the conservation agreement covering the area. Unfortunately, despite being very beautiful and spectacular when in flower, rhoddies are bad news for native wildlife and biodiversity. They may seem to offer variety and shelter etc but in reality they outcompete, smother and are literally toxic to native species - ultimately leading to a reduction in variety and nature conservation value.

Once they've been cleared then I imagine the aim is for more heather moorland (for conservation and shooting reasons) which will benefit bees.

There's a explanation here

Can be great in parks and gardens though.