A group of sailors armed with loppers, saws and clippers have been waging war on a rhododendron infestation.

Trainee aircrew and Naval airmen from RNAS Culdrose joined forces with the Sustainable Trust to clear two areas of woodland, Crevner and Fox Groves on the Praze-an-Beeble Estate near Camborne, after both had become overrun with rhododendron and cherry laurel bushes.

The plants have been shown to be poisonous to some grazing animals and responsible for the diminishing number of earthworms, birds and other plants in the infested woodland. They can also reduce the regenerative capacity of a site and eventually result in the breakdown of the biodiversity of a site.

The team of 21 from Culdrose were asked to cut, pile and burn as much of the unwanted vegetation as possible. After five hours, masses of the shrubs had been cleared and burned.

“This has been a great opportunity to get involved with the community,” said Lieutenant Gareth Neal from 750 Naval Air Squadron. “Cleaning these woodlands of rhododendrons has been trickier than just chopping down a few bushes. Hopefully others can enjoy our efforts.”

As well as helping the local community, this was an ideal opportunity for the young officers under training on 750 Naval Air Squadron to practice their leadership skills, as they near the end of their flying training to become Royal Navy Observers. In a few months, these officers will be expected to take charge of their own divisions of sailors, leading them when they join an operational unit.

This is the first time the Sustainable Trust has worked with personnel from RNAS Culdrose and the feedback was very positive. Claire North, a volunteer from the trust said: “It’s fantastic to have well motivated and polite young people willing to give their time to this cause. We’ve achieved so much today.”