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Minister Humphreys risks destroying oakwoods of Killarney - Lynn Boylan MEP

20 January, 2015 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has severely criticised the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys for refusing to meet with her to discuss the issue relating to the control of the invasive weed Rhododendron ponticum in the oakwoods of Killarney National Park.

These woods lie within a Special Area of Conservation under Annex 1 of the EU Habitats Directive.

“From 1981 to 2009, Groundwork, a voluntary organisation cleared 40% of these woodlands using tried and tested scientific methods.  As an ecologist and someone who worked for Groundwork for a number of years, I can attest to the methods employed by the organisation," said Ms Boylan.

“Due to differences between Park Management and Groundwork, this essential maintenance of Killarney Oakwoods ceased in 2009. Despite promises from the national park management to continue the maintenance, in 2013, Groundwork revisited the woods that had been designated clear and have found that re-infestation is occurring at an alarming pace.

“Groundwork have lodged a formal complaint with the European Commission, that the NPWS are in breach of Articles 6.1 and 6.2 of the Habitats Directive.

“I have been seeking a meeting with the Minister for a number of months now to try to come to come to a satisfactory resolution in this matter and I have eventually received her response today. In it she states that she is "unable to facilitate a meeting at this time".

“I had hoped that the Minister would be receptive to finding an amicable resolution to the situation that would see these important woodlands protected, instead she has chosen to bury her head in the sand and allow 5,000 weeks of volunteering to be undone. This behaviour risks destroying the oakwood of Killarney.”  

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