by Tom Beckett

Due to the snowy conditions over the weekend, unfortunately we couldn’t go to Glenlude as was originally planned. However, the weather wasn’t going to stop us from getting out and doing some conservation work.  So a change of plan saw us heading to Capielaw Woods in Midlothian. Our goal was to clear and burn rhododendrons in the woods. Rhododendrons are an alien species (not native to Britain) that have been proven to reduce biodiversity in forests.

When we arrived at the site, we started a fire and began clearing rhododendrons. We worked for a few hours and managed to clear a significant amount of rhododendron. When the time arrived, we were all grateful for lunch and a hot drink. While we were eating our lunch, two or three territorial male robins joined us – and put on quite a display. After lunch, it started snowing quite heavily and we took a break to play games in the woods. When we heard that it was snowing in Edinburgh, a decision was made to return to Tynecastle slightly early. We piled up the remaining rhododendron (for a ranger to burn another day) and put out the fire, taking care to cover the ashes with moss and dirt to leave no trace.

We arrived back at Tynecastle slightly ahead of schedule however I think it’s safe to say we were all pleased with what we’d managed to achieve at the woods. Despite the bitterly cold wintry conditions, we managed to clear a lot of rhododendron and make Capielaw Woods a healthier ecosystem.