Wednesday, 6 November 2019
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Invasive Plant Species
37. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the action she is taking to rid Ireland of invasive species and noxious weeds in national parks and in other parks and lands controlled by the OPW or local authorities. [45463/19]
My Department is responsible for the implementation of the Wildlife Acts and the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 477/2011), both of which prohibit the spreading of invasive species. Work is also underway in my Department to implement the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation (No. 1143/2014) in the national context and legislation to do this is at an advanced draft stage.
Under the current legislative framework, responsibility for invasive alien species rests, in the first instance, with landowners. Throughout my Department’s 87,000 hectare network of National Parks and nature Reserves, tackling invasive species such as Rhododendron ponticum, Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed is an ongoing operational matter.
Since 2011, my Department has invested circa €1.4m to tackle rhododendron clearance in Killarney National Park alone. This is in addition to separate investments throughout Glenveagh, Connemara and Wild Nephin / Ballycroy National Park and in a number of Nature Reserves.
Clearance work is carried out across various NPWS sites directly by our staff and also in certain instances by contractors. With regard to combatting these invasive species, glyphosate is one of the most effective means of killing problematic invasive plant species, and it is an essential herbicide in the control of other noxious weeds. NPWS invasive species eradication programmes over many years have mainly focussed on injection of herbicide into the plant, or application onto cuts made in the stems, rather than spraying, both of which greatly reduce the quantity used and human contact with the herbicide.
Eradication of invasive alien species, once they become established, is usually difficult to achieve and resources are best used to promote awareness, prevent introduction of invasive alien species and, where a species has established itself, put in place effective and appropriate management measures to mitigate the effects of the species on native habitats and species.
Raising awareness of invasive alien species and the threat that they pose to native biodiversity is an important component of my Department's work in this area. In 2018, a new stream of grant funding for local authorities was piloted. This funding is to assist local authorities to support projects that support actions in the National Biodiversity Action Plan, including those that target invasive alien species in their areas. In 2019, €500,000 was allocated to the 28 local authorities who applied. Grant funding of €700,000 will be available in 2020.