Youth Rangers Get Involved in 2014 Invasive Species Control

There was lots to do for the youth rangers on the first day of the Mourne Heritage scheme which involved seven young people. Catherine Cochrane from the MHT explained: ” They headed out into the Silent Valley to help nurture a young oak wood.

[caption id="attachment_50997" align="alignleft" width="360"]A young volunteer bashes the bracken. A young volunteer bashes the bracken.[/caption]

“Armed with hazel sticks, the order of the day was to clear a one metre radius around the saplings. Bracken has become a significant problem around the Nature trail and by ‘bashing’ the bracken you damage the fern-like plant and therefore starve the root system of energy. When this process is repeated during the year the plant’s growth is hampered.

“In amongst the bracken we found an exotic looking moth, a Garden Tiger.  Following a picnic lunch the young people worked hard on clearing an area of invasive lodge pole pine trees which were encroaching into an area of heathland. By removing the trees, more light can encourage the heather and other heathland plants to flourish.

“The youth rangers learned a tree felling technique and were able to remove trees using a bow saw. Many young lodge pole pine seedlings were pulled out by the roots. In this habitat the youth rangers spotted; Bog Asphodel, a large wood wasp, common blue damselfly and a common darter dragonfly. This activity is the first if six and will count towards a John Muir Discovery level award.”