1. Rhododendron flower produces 7000 seeds which disperse through water and air, making this process even more complicated. It has proved an incurable problem in Killarney National Park as it completely smothers the undergrowth and allows for no regrowth, growing up to eight metres (25 feet), towering over other species and blocking out light with their thick, leafy canopy.” A helicopter guided them through the dense rhododendrons to a lake shore, where they were rescued by boat. “We get no credit for what we’ve done. At this moment of chronic biodiversity loss and climate crisis, we shouldn’t just be debating rhododendron in Killarney. It’s natural to wonder whether Groundwork had overstepped some boundary, or whether something untoward had come to light that forced the NPWS to distance the park from the group. Rhododendron ponticum is a non-native shrub that can grow taller than 25ft (8m) if it is not controlled. Only a rhododendron canopy would be a disaster.”. Senior NPWS management consulted by The Irish Times include the principal officer responsible for science, the divisional manager covering Killarney, and the regional ecologist responsible for the area. Please subscribe to sign in to comment. Cotoneaster microphyllus, Fagus sylvatica, but it is only Rhododendron ponticum which has had any serious impact on the native communities. The Tomies Wood Loop Walk is an easy to moderate, family friendly 3 to 4 hour (9km) marked loop trail through these beautiful woods on the slopes of Tomies Mountain (735m) and on the shore of Lough Leane, the largest of the Killarney Lakes, Co. Kerry in the south west of Ireland. O’Toole defends his record and the “great clearances” he and his team are doing. Until we as a nation care as much about damage to our public landscapes and natural heritage as we do about damage to persons or private property, it may be very hard to reform the NPWS. Peter O’Toole is a long-serving NPWS conservation ranger in Killarney. © 2020 BBC. Perhaps this last sentence captures, more than any other, the shift in standards from Groundwork’s approach to the current one: for Groundwork, clear meant clear. (1) Rhododendron ponticum was introduced into the Killarney area of S.W. Just off the Hope-Princeton Highway in Manning Provincial Park there is a natural grove of rhododendron plants. trapped in a 'treacherous' rhododendron forest. The tourists who could not find their way out of the forest on Thursday called Kerry Mountain Rescue at about 13:00 local time. (2008) Rhododendron ponticum: A guide to the management on nature conservation sites. Widespread infestation by rhododendron, an exotic invasive shrub, was blocking tree regeneration, and shading out the rich and distinctive communities of native plants and animals these forests support. When you have reset your password, you can, Please choose a screen name. Read about our approach to external linking. I tell O’Toole and Cahalane that I have recently visited woods that had been maintained completely clear by Groundwork for decades, and which had supposedly been checked by NPWS staff or contractors only months or weeks before my visit. Killarney was declared National Park in 1932 and it has an extention of more than 10000 hectares. None of them could offer any explanation, nor find any documentary record, to show how and why the published park plan and the strategy manual were stillborn. Small wonder that more than 90 per cent of our nominally protected habitats are already described, by the NPWS itself, as in “bad or inadequate condition”. Groundwork leaders claim they tried to work with the new managers, despite disagreements about methodology, but they had one red line. The terrain is steep and often very tough. Killarney National Park (Irish: Páirc Náisiúnta Chill Airne), near the town of Killarney, County Kerry, was the first national park in Ireland, created when the Muckross Estate was donated to the Irish Free State in 1932. Video. O’Keefe and Good both agree that it is an urgent priority in 2019 to remove the plants that the group has geo-tagged, especially where they form “clumps”. Now, anything short of full domination of once-cleared wood by rhododendron appears to be good enough. But my interviews with the NPWS scientific staff show that the methods O’Toole is using, and which are incorporated in this plan, have still not been subjected to scientific testing. small numbers of flowers have been observed at Killarney in all months of the year. “But they refused to work with us. They rarely back its staff, when they come under attack for attempting to enforce a raft of complex and frequently unpopular environmental laws. And where rhododendron had still not penetrated, excessive grazing by deer and sheep posed, and still poses, a severe secondary threat to natural recovery, gobbling up oak seedlings as fast as they sprang up. Rhododendron ponticum is a major problem now in the national park in Killarney and €200,000 was spent by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in Killarney … The National Parks Service, as the NPWS used to be known, gave its blessing to this enterprise from the outset. The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the parent body of the NPWS, told The Irish Times that “upon consideration of the steps that the department has put in place the EU Commission decided not to pursue these complaints”. But by the late 1970s even Killarney’s remote, and therefore supposedly pristine, western woodlands were effectively “ecological ghosts”. “The commitments which NPWS has made to you are a rerun of the commitments they previously made to Unesco in May 2017, and/or commitments made by the NPWS directors to Groundwork in May 2014, and again in 2018. The project work is based outdoors and a substantial amount of time might be spent walking through mountain and forest areas each day. These were not, by all accounts, holidays for the faint-hearted. But each time the NPWS failed to make further contact. Killarney National Park is on the brink of ecocide. Gritten RH, 1995. Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. The nation deserves much better – Daniel Kelly, forestry expert and emeritus fellow in botany at Trinity College Dublin. Perhaps some light is shed by another email later the same month from the senior ranger at the time, now deceased, to Dawson: “I also believe that the morale of our own staff should be our number one priority when this issue [rhododendron eradication] is being considered.”. At the end of the loop you leave this path and enter the Rhododendron Forest which at the time of writing is a little over grown and therefore can be difficult to navigate through. Biology and control of invasive plants Ruthin, Clwyd, UK; Richards, Moorhead & Laing Ltd, 62-63. For one key party to the dispute, what happened in 2005 is very simple. Just Forests call on LIDI to stop selling rhododendron An ecological disaster is taking place in Killarney National Park - the first national park to be established in the State. This document remains on the service’s website to this day. 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