30/06/14

30/06/2014 : Minister Deenihan announces new Rhododendron control initiative for Killarney National Park

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Mr Jimmy Deenihan TD, today announced a new project – Adopt a Woodland in Killarney National Park – to assist with the control of Rhododendron ponticum in the National Park.

The Minister said: “I recently met with my officials in Killarney National Park and visited some of the many sites within the Park that have been affected by Rhododendron infestation. There is no doubt that my Department has done and continues to do extraordinary work in bringing this invasive species under control in many areas of the Park. The work of my own staff, the volunteer groups involved, and the outside specialist contractors is to be commended.

The Minister welcomed the recent interest in this matter saying that it served to highlight the damage invasive species can cause to our biodiversity and also as a reminder to all that our biodiversity can be fragile and cannot be taken for granted, and that we have a shared responsibility for its protection.

He said: “It is apparent to me that there is public support, and the will to assist my Department in its efforts to control Rhododendron in Killarney National Park.  I am very keen to harness this momentum for the benefit of Killarney National Park and to this end I am announcing my intention to initiate the Adopt a Woodland in Killarney National Park Conservation Project.”         

The proposed pilot project aims to employ the assistance of volunteer groups to prevent priority woodlands habitats from becoming re-infested with Rhododendron, to assist with the on-going Rhododendron control and management programme in Killarney National Park and to highlight to the public the problem of Rhododendron ponticum in native habitats.

It is proposed to make the scheme available to conservation groups, walking clubs, university groups and any other interested organised groups. Each chosen volunteer group would be allocated an area of woodland in the Park which they would maintain free from rhododendron over a number of years by pulling small seedlings.

The target woodlands for the project have already been cleared of mature rhododendron and maintenance work has been carried out over a period of years to remove seedlings and saplings. It is these sites, that will require on-going low level maintenance work for many years to come, that will be the target locations for the project.

It is intended that the project would be operated through a volunteer charter that will summarise the principles underpinning it and provide a summary of the expectations and commitments of both the Department and the volunteer groups involved.  The initial pilot project will focus on Killarney National Park but may be extended to other properties at a later time.

The Minister said: “Over the coming months I will work with my officials to develop the details of the Project.  The intention is to seek expressions of interest for the Project in the Autumn so that we can be best placed to incorporate this new initiative into our 2015 Rhododendron Control Programme for Killarney National Park.

ENDS

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Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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