April 23, 2008

A successful field day, attended by several stakeholder organisations of Scotland's Ragwort control, was held at the foot of Ben Ledi in the Stirling and Trossachs National Park recently.

The field day, a culmination of two years work, was jointly hosted by The British Horse Society Scotland, Butterfly Conservation Scotland and Plantlife Scotland.

During the day representatives from the three organisations were joined by the pesticides industry, Scottish Government, the Forestry Commission, SNH and countryside rangers.

The event covered many topics from the control of Ragwort to the biodiversity benefits of the plant, which is the home of the Cinnibar moth.

A consensus was reached that, although Ragwort has valuable biodiversity benefits, when it grows near to grazing animals, areas of public amenity or to the detriment of all other plants it ought to be controlled.

Jim Macintosh from the Royal Botanical Gardens at Edinburgh brought several samples of plants commonly mistaken for Ragwort and several Ragwort rosettes were removed by a Ragfork along the Strathyre Cabins road.

2008 is a red-letter year for Ragwort control in Scotland with the production of a new Ragwort leaflet and the publishing of the Scottish Government's guidance on Ragwort control.

BHS Scotland Development Officer Helene Mauchlen, who has run the Scottish Ragwort Hotline for nine years said it was an important year for Scottish Ragwort "as we set the rules for striking a balance between control and recognising Ragwort as part of a diverse plant community."

"At the field day there was great discussion about control methods. The delegates gained a really strong picture of the poisonous affects of Ragwort from Fife Veterinary Surgeon, Sam Duff. They were also able to learn about how, in certain situations, Ragwort is a valuable nectar producing plant, she said.

"At BHS Scotland we are continually renewing our educational campaign with horse owners as equines really must not be exposed to Ragwort and it is the owners responsibility to ensure they are not."