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CONSERVATION & ECOLOGY


On a links golf course, the aim should be to


After removal


reinstate the dune habitat, this means scraping off the enriched top soil that the sea buckthorn creates


in their efforts.


A female can have 1-14 offspring in a litter, starting at only six months old. Females can become pregnant within minutes after birth. As their gestation period is about one month, one female could hypothetically give birth 12 times in one year, though the mating season is typically the springtime. So, given an average litter of 6 rabbits is achieved (3 male, 3 female), one mother rabbit x 3 female babies x 12 months = 36 female babies plus mother = 37. The population would increase as follows:


• Year Two: 1332 • Year Three: 49,284 • Year Four: 1,823,508 • Year Five: 67,420,512 • Year Six: 2,494,558,944 • Year Seven: 92,298,716,930


A very frightening prospect if you’re a greenkeeper.


Controlling rabbits on a links course can be very difficult as gassing is not effective as the gas can dissipate in the sand, and


often the burrows are not accessible due to their dense form and sharp thorns of the sea buckthorn. The only real option is shooting or ferreting once the buckthorn is removed and access can be gained.


If buckthorn removal is taking place, then the opportunity to destroy the burrows and habitat that protects the colony should be taken. This benefits the long-term control of the rabbits as new burrows in open ground can be accessed. The exposed landscape allows predators such as foxes and birds of prey the opportunity of natural control.


The quality and amount of harbourage are major factors that can determine the number of rabbits in a particular area. Habitat management should therefore play an integral part of any successful rabbit control programme. Scrub and ground cover may need to be thinned sufficiently to give access to all burrows; this is essential where gassing is planned. Also, where practicable, burrow systems should be destroyed following control operations.


Article by John Nicholson www.johnnicholsonassociates.co.uk


Technical Information


The best way to remove buckthorn is by using a forestry brash fork on a suitable excavator to remove the entire plant, including as much of the root system as possible. This is necessary as any vegetative material left in the soil will reproduce through suckers and a major control programme will be required to stop the recolonisation of the area.


The arisings should then, ideally, be burnt in a deep hole; the sand removed from the hole can then be used to recontour. The enriched top soil that has been produced by the sea buckthorn needs to be scraped off and buried in order to reduce fertility and create an ecosystem that favours the fine grasses desired for quality golf surfaces.


It is essential to bury the material at least 2 metres down to stop any regeneration. It is also necessary to monitor for regrowth and treat any suckering with an appropriate herbicide before it establishes. Undertaking the removal meticulously will save a lot of future management works. Chipping the arisings is also a possible solution, though can be very difficult due to the contorted nature of the plant and the long sharp thorns that it possesses.


On a links golf course, the aim should be to reinstate the dune habitat, this means scraping off the enriched top soil that the sea buckthorn creates. The enriched soil can then be buried along with the arisings and then recontoured using the infertile sand from the excavation of the burial pit.


Ideally, two machines should work in tandem to make the operation efficient, one removing the thorns and the other burying and recontouring as they go.


Nettles commonly associated with sea buckthorn PC August/September 2019 129





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