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Minister gives half a million euro in funding to clear rhododendron out of Connemara National Park

Junior Minister Malcolm Noonan said that rhododendron “is one of the biggest threats to peatlands in the west of Ireland”.

File photo of rhododendron in Connemara.
File photo of rhododendron in Connemara.
Image: Shutterstock/Gert Olsson

MINISTER OF STATE for Heritage Malcom Noonan has announced a funding allocation of €500,000 to clear the invasive rhododendron species from Connemara National Park.

The funding will be spent over the next two years to help eradicate rhododendron across 300 hectares of heath and blanket bog within the National Park, and will create employment opportunities in the National Park.

“Removing invasive species is challenging and labour-intensive work, but it’s critically important for the health of our ecosystems,” the Minister of State said.

The rhododendron clearance project will be advertised as e-tenders; contractors are to submit a response to the tender request to have their submissions considered.

The aim is for the works to commence by the fourth quarter of the year.

John Sweeney, President of Connemara Chamber of Commerce and Karen Mannion, CEO of FORUM Connemara (who are working with the National Parks as neighbours on a range of agri-environmental initiatives) both welcomed the news, saying:

“We are aware that similar work in 2020 provided employment to eight locals through the Farm Relief Service. It is tremendous to see this positive conservation work ongoing within the National Park, which is of significant benefit to both biodiversity and the community. We look forward with anticipation to the delivery of this project, which will further enhance Connemara as a location to visit and as a place to live.”

Dr Kevin Heanue, chairman of the Board of Directors of Connemara West also welcomed the news.

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“The fight against invasive species like rhododendron is an ongoing challenge in Connemara and it is great to see this work continuing. The National Park is a significant local asset not only in terms of the natural environment but also in terms of the contribution it makes to peoples’ quality of life.”

Minister of State Noonan concluded: “Rhododendron is an extremely invasive species. It is one of the biggest threats to peatlands in the west of Ireland and can colonise habitats, causing significant problems unless properly managed.

He said he’s “delighted” the National Parks and Wildlife Service are using the funding to alleviate “a significant pressure” on the habitat and support the natural ecological function of the Park.

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