flora & fauna | biodiversity notes from the Earth Day discussion group on biodiversity
  • Kestrel
    Kestrel: widespread throughout the region
    All birdlife photography © John N Murphy
    Alien Invasion: We need to stop it spreading now!

    Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is an alien, invasive plant species that was first introduced to Ireland more than 100 years ago. This plant forms dense thickets along roadsides, waste-grounds and waterways. It reproduces by vegetative means and is difficult to kill off once it becomes established. This plant is included among the list of the 100 most invasive alien species of the world.

    It was originally brought here as an ornamental garden plant. This species is native to Japan, Taiwan and Northern China, where it likes to grow in sunny places on hills and mountains.

    A section of rhizome (a root-like underground stem) as small as 0.7 gramme can produce a new plant. This highlights the importance of preventing the movement of earth contaminated with Japanese knotweed rhizome, from one area to another, which is the main cause of Japanese knotweed spread in Ireland.

    Japanese knotweed is a very serious threat in Ireland. It forms dense cover forcing native plant species to die off. It also grows to heights of 2-3m and reduces visibility along roadsides while also making access to sites difficult for walkers and anglers. In winter the plant dies back leaving the soil exposed to erosion from flooding. This plant also poses a serious threat to buildings as it has an ability to push up through tarmac and can even penetrate foundations or walls often resulting in financial losses.

    There are a number of different treatment options for the control of Japanese knotweed depending on situation/location, size of infestation, site access and presence of other vegetation and cost.

    • Chemical control. This involves the use of herbicide. Herbicide should not be used near ponds, lakes, streams or other watercourses. It should only be applied during still weather to avoid contamination by herbicide outside the infested area.

    • Physical control. This is unlikely to eradicate Japanese knotweed. Pulling up mature stems with the roots over a three year period has been shown to have good results over small areas, however this is very labour intensive. Regular cutting of an area can halt it spreading.

    Japanese knotweed poses a serious threat to habitats and native plants and needs to be addressed. This plant is creating serious problems in other countries and is proving to be very costly to control. In Ireland, the policy of prevention is better than cure should be adopted. Earth from infected areas should never be moved elsewhere as this is the main cause of the spread of Japanese knotweed. Everybody is responsible for preventing this species from becoming established on his or her land. Landowners that are unfortunate enough to have the weed already on their property should take steps to kill it off immediately.

    A leaflet on the problem of Japanese knotweed in Clare and how to identify it is available from Clare County Council. Contact the Heritage or Biodiversity Officer in the Planning Department, Clare County Council.

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    The Clare Biodiversity Action Plan: The First Local Biodiversity Action Plan in Ireland

    County Clare is the first county in Ireland to produce a Local Biodiversity Action Plan. The Clare Biodiversity Group is directing the Clare Biodiversity Action Plan process in the county. The group consists of representatives from a variety of organisations both governmental and non-governmental as well as individuals with an interest or expertise in biodiversity in the County. Members include Clare County Council, Irish Seed Savers Association, the Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Foundation, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Irish Farmers Association, the Forest Service as well as individual experts such as Brendan Dunford.

    Chairperson of the Clare Biodiversity Group, Dr Simon Berrow said "the main aim of the Clare Biodiversity Action Plan is to conserve the biodiversity of County Clare. This will be achieved by prioritising, coordinating and initiating action to ensure the effective conservation and enhancement of biodiversity in Clare and by raising awareness and appreciation of local biodiversity through involving local communities and informing policy."

    County Clare has been leading the way in appreciation and protection of heritage in Ireland for some time now. Clare was one of the first counties to have a Heritage Officer in post and one of the first counties to produce a Heritage Plan. The production of a Local Biodiversity Action Plan is one of the many natural heritage objectives in the County Clare Heritage Plan 2003-2007. According to Congella McGuire, the Heritage Officer "the Clare Biodiversity Action Plan process would not have been possible without funding from the Heritage Council, LEADER and Clare County Council, and the dedicated members of the Clare Biodiversity Group who volunteer their time and expertise."

    The National Biodiversity Plan, which was published by the government in 2002, requires each Local Authority to produce a Local Biodiversity Action Plan. Local Biodiversity Action Plans also contribute to Countdown 2010. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) have set a worldwide aim to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010.

    For more information contact:
    Shane Casey, Biodiversity Officer, Clare County Council
    Tel: 065 6846499

    Download the Clare Biodiversity Action Plan in PDF format (480k)

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    Calling all bat detectives!

    Would you like to learn more about the bats in your local area? Well here is your chance! People and Nature, the Galway County Biodiversity Project is going batty this summer! With the help of bat expert Dr Kate McAney we hope to set up a number of local bat surveys to monitor bat-life throughout the county. No special knowledge required as training and equipment will be provided. Anybody who has an interest in bats or local wildlife is welcome to take part in what promises to be a fun and interesting activity for those long summer nights!

    If you would like to take part in a local bat survey for your area just contact the People and Nature project manager: Elaine O'Riordan
    Applied Ecology Unit
    Centre for Environmental Science
    NUI Galway
    Tel: 091 493863

    People & Nature: The Galway County Biodiversity Project - Events and Activities 2006
    Download PDF Brochure (English) | Download PDF Brochure (Irish)

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    Aughty Birdlife images
    Many thanks to John Murphy of for the photos and information below.
    Coal Tit
    Coal Tit: one of the few birds that like conifer plantations
    Dipper: found on the clean fresh upper streams of the Aughties
    Golden Plover
    Golden Plover: found high in Slieve Aughty
      Grey Heron
    Grey Herons: on all the lakes and streams
    Stonechat: found in rougher ground
      Tufted Drake
    Tufted Ducks are common in Lough Inchicronan
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