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Spread of rhododendron ‘death warrant’ for countryside

category national | environment | press release author Wednesday November 11, 2020 21:14author by foie - Friends of the Irish Environment Report this post to the editors

Press Release - Friends of the Irish Environment 11th Nov 2020

Call for Covid-19 ‘track and trace’ for rhododendron
Spread of rhododendron ‘death warrant’ for countryside

The spread of rhododendron across Ireland’s countryside has been likened to Covid-19 by an environmental charity, Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE]. FIE have called for a ‘track and trace’ programme to be put in place to control the increasing spread of this ‘beautiful and picturesque death warrant’.


PRESS RELEASE
FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT
11 NOVEMBER, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Call for Covid-19 ‘track and trace’ for rhododendron
Spread of rhododendron ‘death warrant’ for countryside

The spread of rhododendron across Ireland’s countryside has been likened to Covid-19 by an environmental charity, Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE]. FIE have called for a ‘track and trace’ programme to be put in place to control the increasing spread of this ‘beautiful and picturesque death warrant’.

FIE’s Tony Lowes says that ‘Rhododendron was introduced to ornamental gardens in Ireland in the 18th century but is toxic to mammals. It has proved an incurable problem in Killarney National Park as it completely smothers the undergrowth and allows for no regrowth, growing up to 8 m (25 feet), towering over other species and blocking out light with their thick leafy canopy.’

In today’s Irish Examiner, he explained that ‘while the scourge of Japanese knotweed is becoming better known as a menace in communities, there is still a general lack of awareness about the damage that these pretty flower will inflict on any nearby flora and fauna. If rhododendron gets into a forest, your forest now has a death sentence hanging over it. Open countryside becomes impenetrable to man and beast.’

In a letter to the Pippa Hackett, Minister for Biodiversity, FIE points out that ‘What is more worrying is that because the seed is carried by the wind (unlike Japanese knotweed’s root based spread) rhododendron is spreading onto our most remote and unspoiled land. There it can be undetected until it becomes so entrenched it is impossible to remove – the situation you have in the Vee in County Tipperary.’

The group has asked the Minister to put in place a citizen’s science-based track and trace programme. ‘We need to identify the first plants before they have the opportunity to spread – just like Covid-19.’

ENDS

Comment: Tony Lowes 353 (0)87 2176316

Letter to Minister
https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/library/17895-letter-to-minister-hackett-on-rhododendron

This Press Release
https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/press-releases/17896-call-for-covid-track-and-trace-for-rhododendron

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