Report from George Markie
FORESTRY officials looking to rid woodland areas of rhododendrons have come up with a novel way of rooting out the problem - following the lead of wild boars.
The pigs are being put through their paces in Moray, in a trial scheme to see if their digging skills can be used to clear areas overgrown by the wild flowers.
Forestry Enterprise said the boars, which are on loan from a local farm, could reduce the need for chemical methods to remove rhododendrons.
The tamed animals are close relatives of the boars highly prized in southern Europe for their ability to root up truffles.
Phil Whitfield, a forest district manager, said the aim was to regenerate forest areas on a small scale to create a more natural woodland environment.
He said the experiment, which has been running for three weeks, followed a successful three-year scheme to use the pigs for preparing small areas of woodland for re-seeding.
They have been placed in three half-acre enclosures containing rhododendrons and will be closely monitored to see if they are suitable for the job.
Mr Whitfield said: "We've got some experience that they like rooting things up, but we're not sure if it will work yet and there's a lot of things to consider in the longer term.
"We have to leave them in the area long enough to do the job, but they could also damage the trees. We need to make sure they actually dig the stuff up and don't just trample it, otherwise it will grow back with a vengeance. There is also a concern that we make sure they don't eat the rhododendrons as they're highly poisonous, and we don't want them to overly enrich the area with their manure."
Mr Whitfield said it would be several months before it was clear whether the experiment was worth developing further and three years before it could be judged a success or failure.
© The Scotsman 10 th May 2002
|Return to index||Return to Exotic Scottish Animals||Return to Wild Boar|