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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -3°C
Picasa via Groundwork

Volunteers: Killarney Park faces 'grim and uncertain future' if destructive plant not dealt with

A petition has been set up calling on Minister Deenihan to ensure the park becomes clear of the rhododendron plant.

A GROUP OF conservation volunteers have accused Killarney National Park of allowing a weed that threatens the ecology of the park to spread.

Groundwork is a voluntary environmental organisation that was established in 1981.

Most of Groundwork’s focus has been on the removal of the invasive Rhododendron ponticum from Killarney National Park in Kerry.

The plant out-competes native species for space and resources through its almost complete shading of the ground.

The group stopped working in the park in 2009 after its methods were no longer deemed acceptable by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

The NPWS wanted to only use herbicides to deal with the rhododendron.

Coordinator with Groundwork, Trevor Halpin, told that “from 1981 to 2005 40% of the oakwoods were cleared and maintained clear of rhododendron by Groundwork.

If the years of volunteer work by Groundwork is not followed up immediately in a thorough and systematic way by National Park and Wildlife Service, then oak woods of KNP face a grim and uncertain future.

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan responded to questions in the Dáil from Independent TD Thomas Pringle this week about the Department’s role in managing the invasive plant.

Minister Deenihan said: “since 2011 nearly €500,000 has been invested in this work and for this year I have allocated a further €100,000 to Killarney National Park for the management of this plant.

Approximately 3,000 of the 10,000 hectares in the Park were, to some extent, affected by Rhododendron infestation. My Department’s management programme has made significant inroads into the problem and now approximately 2,000 of those hectares, involving some 40 different sites, are under effective control.

“Ultimately, the plan is to clear all rhododendron from Killarney National Park. The annual rhododendron management programme is intended to create conditions in the Park that are conducive to the protection and re-establishment of native species and, particularly, our native woodlands.”

Halpin said that the most recent report taken by Groundwork has shown that areas of Killarney National Park are becoming overgrown again.

Save Killarney Oak Woods say that its aim is to pressure the Minister and NPWS to ensure Killarney oak woods are saved through thorough and systematic removal of rhododendron.

They have recently published a video showing the growth of plant in Killarney National Park.

eatpraylove69 / YouTube

Many people are angry about the growth of rhododendron at the park.


A petition has been set up calling on Minister Deenihan to “act immediately and ensure these areas are once again clear.”


Trevor Halpin said that Groundwork and the Department should work together to tackle the problem.

Read: Couple in their 50s rescued from rhododendron forest in Tipperary>

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