Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Ceisteanna (346)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

346. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of rhododendron ponticum in the previously cleared oak woodlands of Killarney National Park; when the last assessment of the woodlands took place; and if it was carried out by independent scientific experts. [15220/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The highly invasive non-native weed Rhododendron ponticum occurs in low to moderate, or slight to severe, levels throughout previously cleared oak woodlands of Killarney National Park, depending on the classification terminology being used. Higher densities occur in woodlands close to dense infestations where rhododendron has never been cleared, due to seed rain.

Densities of seeding plants varied from 0.3 plants/ha to 18.6 plants/ha (2018 data, the highest density was from a single clump). Data from selected woods is given in the Table below.

Previously cleared woodlands are the subject of ongoing management. Assessment of rhododendron in these woodlands is also ongoing, with ground surveys and drone surveys carried out in many of these woods in November 2017, May and September-October 2018, May 2019 and early March 2020. All these surveys were carried out by independent scientific experts, with the exception of two smaller surveys which were carried out by a graduate student and an NPWS professional.

Estimated densities/ha based on transect surveys in autumn 2018.

Area

Seeding plants/ha

Eagles Nest

1.4

Gortaderaree

0.3

Oak Island

18.6

Bula

3.8

Cahernabane

4.6

Ullauns

10.4

Cromaglan

0.4

Cahnicaun

3.2

Cuckoo Wood

5.6

Brickeen Is.

7.0

Various areas, including some of the above, have been subject to Rhododendron control measures since 2018. In particular, specific contracts were undertaken in 2019 to monitor and remove flowering or seed bearing Rhododendron plants from a number of areas in Killarney National Park. This is in addition to major contracts to undertake total removal of all Rhododendron from locations, including at Eagles Nest, Tomies, Powlagower and Ullauns.