Other Questions. - Endangered Species.

Gerry Reynolds

Question:

8 Mr. G. Reynolds asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands the expenditure by her Department in each national park to protect endangered species; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19693/98]

The function of each of the five national parks administered by Dúchas, the heritage service of my Department, is the conservation of nature encompassing the preservation of habitat and species of flora and fauna etc. The preservation of the habitat ensures that an endangered species does not become extinct which might occur but for the protection provided within the national park. An example of work undertaken to preserve the habitat is the removal of rhododendron bushes in Killarney and Glenveagh national parks which otherwise would stifle native trees and threaten the various species which depend on the woodland habitat. As a comprehensive approach is taken to fulfill these tasks, it is not possible to give a breakdown of expenditure solely relating to endangered species.

Has the Minister called in the managers of the five national parks to discuss this matter? Will she arrange for her Department to supply me with a list of endangered species in each of the national parks and information on the preservation work being done to protect endangered species in Killarney and Glenveagh national parks?

I do not believe there is any need to call in the managers. We have five national parks and a sixth one will come into existence on 1 November in the Deputy's constituency.

I am pleased it will be opened on 1 November.

I am glad there is movement on that and I am sure that is appreciated by the Deputy. The definition of a national park is concise. It covers areas which exist to conserve natural plant and animal communities in scenic landscapes, which are both extensive and of national importance, and under conditions compatible with that purpose to ensure the public can visit and appreciate them. That work has been done assiduously in the five national parks and I am sure that type of work will be done with the same enthusiasm when the national park is opened in Mayo.

I will check if the information the Deputy requested on endangered species is available, but the management of our national parks is conscious of the need to protect endangered species. Those species that require protection are listed in the Irish Red Databook, the annex to the Habitats Directive, and are scheduled under the Wildlife Act. The Deputy will find all the necessary information in those publications, but he is welcome to contact my Department if he requires further information.

I thank the Minister for her formal announcement of the opening of the sixth national park in the Nephin Beg Range. I also thank the former Minister, Deputy Higgins, who drove forward this project during his term of office. I was appointed by the committee as rapporteur to prepare a report on the national parks and that is why I need details on the endangered species. I thank the Minister for the information in respect of the red book.