On the International Day for Biodiversity (May 22nd), the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, and Minister for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, have announced a new biodiversity restoration project in Wicklow Mountains National Park, the first of its kind within the Park to take a river catchment-scale approach.
Led by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the project will focus on a 2,000 hectare site at Glenasmole, a picturesque area just 6km from Tallaght that is also the source of the River Dodder, which flows through south county Dublin.
Using a suite of land management techniques, including native woodland planting in gullies, bog restoration and vegetation management, the project aims to increase biodiversity on site while also providing measurable benefits in terms of increased carbon storage, reduction in soil erosion and improved water quality.
The works will result in important ecosystem services to the wider catchment, specifically in terms of flood risk alleviation and improvements in water quality in relation to the River Dodder and the Dublin water supply at Bohernabreena.
The site has been actively farmed for generations and these practices continue today in the National Park. Local farmers, who will have an important role to play in the proposed works, already have experience in active conservation through a recent SUAS (Sustainable Uplands Agri-environment Scheme) project. Improvements in habitat while increasing biodiversity will also offer improved grazing and shade for grazing animals on site, thereby delivering benefits for both wildlife and livestock, long into the future.
It is hoped that this broad catchment based approach to habitat management can act as an exemplar to the wide ranging benefits of habitat restoration and ecological engineering.
Welcoming the announcement, Minister Noonan said:
“It’s fantastic to see the National Parks and Wildlife Service leading on this ambitious and innovative catchment-based biodiversity restoration project, and working closely with local farmers to deliver results - collaboration is key in ensuring meaningful biodiversity action. The project will have benefits for rural communities at the top of the catchment and as well as those living downstream in the city. I’m very pleased to be out on the bog today to mark International Day for Biodiversity with my colleague Minister Eamon Ryan and jointly announce this important initiative.”
Minister Ryan added:
“As a Dublin TD, this is a particularly special project for me as it combines the restoration of nature with climate action and means real, tangible benefits for people – so nature and people both win here. Bog restoration and native tree planting will not only help wildlife and reduce emissions, it will ensure better water quality for the people of Dublin and help to mitigate flooding, which is a significant issue for people living along the River Dodder – which flows all the way from this Valley to the City Centre. I’m delighted that my colleague Minister Malcolm Noonan and the team at the National Parks and Wildlife Service are showing such positive leadership – working with local farmers, many of whom have been looking after valley for generations.”