The Swanholme lakes heathland next to Hartsholme Country Park in Lincoln are due restoration works at the end of October, set to improve the area.
The Swanholme Lakes Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is rated as one of the country’s best sites for wildlife, and is home to various butterflies and dragonflies.
However, over the years, the heathland has suffered serious damage due to the growth of the rhododendron invasive species, which is not native to England.
In some areas, the plants are up to five meters high (pictured), and at times, anti-social behaviour has been harboured by the bushes.
Natural England says the growth of rhododendron has overtaken the growth of native plants, which has led to a substantial loss in the area’s biodiversity.
With £110,000 funding from Natural England over ten years, nearly four hectares of rhododendron and trees from the lake edges will be removed from the area.
The work will be carried out later this month by Sheffield-based specialists, Legacy Habitat, over the next two winter seasons.
Natural England hopes that through removing rhododendron from the site and restoring its heathland, the area will be home to a wide range of native species.
Revealing hidden treasures
“I am really excited to see what germinates when the rhododendron is removed,” said Natural England’s SSSI Adviser, Dr Kate Fagan.
“It is likely that seeds from the heathland plants are still present and viable and are just waiting for their chance to germinate under the blanket of rhododendron.
“It may take some patience, but within a few years the heath should be on its way to its former glory,” Fagan explained.
Ruth Simons, Senior Ranger at Hartsholme Country Park, said the changes would be quite dramatic visually, but offered reassurances:
“It is necessary to protect the heathland species that make Swanholme so special and nationally significant.
“Regular visitors to the lakes will notice the scenery changing quite a lot over this winter and next,” Simons added.
Swanholme Lakes SSSI is owned by the City of Lincoln Council, who will be provided over the ten years with funding from Natural England to maintain the area.