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Steps taken to encourage people to keep to the path in Bluebell Wood

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Thursday 28 March 2024

Improved signage and logs have been installed by Agriculture, Countryside and Land Management Services to encourage visitors to keep to the paths to protect the bluebells in Bluebell Wood.

With the bluebells just starting to flower, they are particularly sensitive to trampling and soil compaction. Damage to the new shoots and leaves prevents them flowering and producing seeds. It also reduces the recovery of the bulbs which is essential if the plants are to flower the following year.

Throughout the wood, bluebells have become less numerous and struggle to hold their own as the dominant white flowered Allium triquetrum, also known as three-cornered leek or stinking onions, continues to spread. It emerges early in the year, getting a head start on native plants such as bluebells and quickly outcompetes them. Once established it is very difficult to control.  

Evidence on the ground suggests that where people stray from the paths, the bluebells are less able to thrive. Where people walk into an area of flowering bluebells, possibly to take photos, this creates tracks that encourage others to follow. This bare ground accelerates the spread of the invasive Allium directly into new areas of bluebell so that in time the dominant groundcover of bluebells may well be lost.

The Guernsey Conservation Volunteers have been giving the bluebells a helping hand after another round of Allium removal that was completed last autumn following initial work towards the end of 2022. However, there is no guarantee that the bluebells can be saved from the advancing Allium. But doing nothing will inevitably lead to their gradual loss so it is hoped that making some small, measured interventions will, over time, give the bluebells a chance to recover.

Francis Russell, Invasive Non-Native Species Policy & Coordination Officer, said:

"Bluebell wood is a special place, so we are continually looking at the best ways to balance public enjoyment of the wood whilst implementing the most effective management to conserve the woodland habitat and its bluebells.

"As the first bluebells have just started flowering, the next couple of months will be really important, so we want to remind visitors about what they can do to help protect the bluebells. Please stay on the designated path, keep dogs under control, and don't walk amongst the bluebells."

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