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Glenasmole Valley Lauren Boland/The Journal
Nature

Degraded land in Dublin mountains to be restored under new biodiversity project

The project is seeking to restore land and improve biodiversity across 2,000 hectares around the Glenasmole Valley.

A 2,000 HECTARE section of degraded land in the Dublin mountains is set to be restored under a new project by the National Parks and Wildlife Service launched today.

Planting tens of thousands of trees, rewetting a blanket bog, and removing invasive plant species are among some of the measures being introduced to Glenasmole valley, located in the Dublin mountains at the source of the River Dodder near the Hell Fire Club and the Killakee viewpoint.

The project aims to restore and protect the land in ways that should increase biodiversity, reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, and keep carbon stored in the ground rather than allowing it to be released into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. It will also help to reduce the risk of flooding.

Currently, plant growth in the area is negatively affected by sheep and deer overgrazing. The project will involve planting new trees but also adding some shelters and fencing where needed to offer protection.

Additionally, invasive, non-native plant species like bracken and rhododendron will be manually cut back.

There are also wider plans to tackle illegal dumping in the area, which one NPWS official said would be important for the local environment, particularly water quality.

The area of land was purchased by the State from NAMA in 2016.

Minister for Environment Eamon Ryan and Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan visited the land today and each planted a tree.

A proposed Nature Restoration Law is currently progressing through the European Union that would introduce targets for restoring ecosystems, habitats and species on land and at sea.

Proponents are backing it as a landmark law that would not only protect land but restore it to good health in areas where it has been degraded.

However, it has received significant political pushback, including in Ireland from members of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, prompting worry about the negative repercussions for nature if the legislation is blocked.

Asked by The Journal this afternoon whether he was concerned about the opposition, Minister Ryan said: “We need the nature restoration law and it will be enacted.”

“Yes, there’s different views and controversy in terms of how it gets to be agreed and completed, but I’m confident it will,” he said.

“It’s in no one’s interests for the natural world to fall apart, for biodiversity to be lost, and so I think we can overcome those difficulties.

“The differences in the Irish system hasn’t been the problem. We’ve actually within government, myself and Minister [for Agriculture] Charlie McConalogue and Minister Noonan have been working collectively. We’ve had a common position in the negotiations. The problem has come from some other European interests .

“But I think there’s common understanding within our system that restoring nature is in all our interests.”

A recent Citizens’ Assembly on biodiversity loss made 159 recommendations to the State on protecting biodiversity and calling for constitutional changes to ensure people have a right to a clean, healthy and safe environment and to embed protections for nature into the constitution. 

A similar assembly of made up of 35 children and teenagers published a report last month calling for Ireland to “treat the Earth like family”.

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