Rhododendron clearance will prevent spread of plant disease

To prevent the spread of the virulent plant disease Phytophthora ramorum (otherwise known as Sudden Oak Death) Rhododendron will be cleared at Vinny Combe, on the northern end of the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), this autumn.

The wild purple flowered Rhododendron ponticum, a particularly aggressive coloniser of acid sandy soils such as those of the Quantocks, can act as a host for Sudden Oak Death.  It is a soil and water-borne fungus-like disease that infects and sometimes kills a range of plant and tree species including bilberry, beech, larch, hazel and birch but, as yet, not oak.

Nigel Garnsworthy, Somerset Countryside Head Warden for the National Trust, the landowners at Vinny Combe, said: “Phytophthora ramorum is a very real concern to us. Our experience in other parts of the country tells us that it is far better to clear this species of Rhododendron now rather than wait for an outbreak of the disease on the Quantocks. Left unchecked it would have a devastating impact on the Hills if it were to become established.”

Chris Edwards, Quantock Hills AONB manager, said: “This work is vital to safeguard the nationally-important landscape of the Quantock Hills that we all know and love. We understand the concerns of the local community who regard Vinny Combe as an asset to the hills and a beauty spot, but Phytophothora ramorum presents a very real threat and after discussions with the Parish Council and the Quantock Commons Management Group we have agreed this is the best course of action.”

Natural England funding will pay for the Rhododendron clearance in Vinny Combe. Tim Brodie-James, Phytophthora Lead at Natural England, said: “The Quantock Hills are designated for their outstanding wildlife value and we have a responsibility to conserve and enhance this.  Natural England is working in partnership to clear and dispose of large areas of Rhododendron. This will reduce the area as a potential host and thereby lessen the risk of the establishment of Phytophthora ramorum”

Katy Coate - March 2010


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Annual Reports

View Annual reports from the Quantock AONB Service

Greater Quantock Landscape Development Fund

The Quantock Hills AONB Service now has a Greater Quantock Landscape Development Fund providing grants of up to £20,000 to local communities, farmers, landowners and individuals. The fund has been provided by EDF Energy and is part of the mitigation measures associated with the Hinkley Point C development.

Information leaflets

Find out more about the geology of the Quantock Hills AONB, why the heathland is so important for birds, the red deer on the Quantocks and why the history of the landscape is so special.

Other organisations and activities in the Quantocks

A few things you might find interesting from organisations we work with in the Quantocks

Photography Competition Entry Form

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Policys and Codes of Conduct

Everyone enjoys spending their time on the hills doing different activities. Below are some guidance and policy documents to ensure they are carried out safely and that wider regulations are followed.

Quantock Deer Count Results

Annual deer count results for 2010 to 2017

Quantock Hills and Planning

Downloadable documents for you to better understand the Quantock AONB and planning processes

Quantock Hills Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) Papers 2014 - 2017

Papers from the partnership committee the Joint Advisory Committee

Quantock Hills Management Plan 2014 - 2019

This is the the Quantock Hills Management Plan 2014 - 2019. It will guide work carried out to protect and enhance the Quantock Hills by the AONB team and all our partners. It has been agreed by the Secretary of State for the Environment and adopted by Somerset County Council, West Somerset Council, Sedgemoor District Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council.

Quantock Hills Visitor Guide

Quantock Hills Visitor Guide

Recreation Leaflets

a full range of leaflets from circular walks to event guides and leaflets to allow you to enjoy the best of the hills

Terms and Conditions for Quantock Hills Facebook page

Terms and Conditions for http://www.facebook.com/Quantock.hills

Tick Leaflet

Ticks are becoming more common and a bite from this spider-like parasite could lead to Lyme Disease. This is a treatable infection caused by bacterium transmitted by ticks when they bite. Not every tick carries Lyme Disease and it is important to realise that the disease is relatively rare.


Useful Contacts

Quantock AONB Service
Tel: 01823 451 884

Somerset Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01823 652 400

National Trust
Tel: 01823 451 814

Forestry Commission
Tel: 01278 732 319