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Last Updated: Monday, 27 September, 2004, 15:10 GMT 16:10 UK
Plant clear up in Snowdonia
The burning rhododendron
Around 600 people have joined the project from across the UK
A major environmental project to clear an invasive species of rhododendron has been taking place on National Trust land in Snowdonia.

Around 600 people are helping rid Craflwyn near Beddgelert of the plant which threatens the natural habitat.

The rapidly-spreading plant poses one of the greatest threats to the unique habitat of Snowdonia by forcing out native species.

It has already taken root over thousands of hectares in the area.

Around 600 people from across Britain are coming to the National Trust property, Craflwyn, near Beddgelert, to help clear the land of the plant.

The invasive species of rhododendron being tackled is the rhododendron ponticum.

The plant threatens the native habitat

It poses one of the greatest threats to the unique and internationally important habitats of Snowdonia, including the native woodland and heathlands.

Warden Dave Smith said: "As it takes over the land it creates a dark space, it's poisonous so nothing can eat it or grow around it, it creates a sort of green desert."

National Trust's head warden, Keith Jones said: "Rhododendron already covers thousands of hectares in the Snowdonia National Park.

"The work of volunteers over the years has made a great contribution to its control.

National Trust warden Dave Smith
Warden Dave Smith said the rhododendron leaves a 'green desert'

"Many people don't realise that we get involved in this kind of work.

"It goes to show that the National Trust is more than just the guardian of historic buildings in Wales, we protect the beauty and enhance the diversity of the Welsh countryside," he added.

An area the size of two football pitches was cleared inside the first two hours.

Volunteer Ceri Ferguson said: "We've been battering the monster that is the rhododendron and setting fire to it - it can be quite good fun but it's hard work."

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