Tender: Aerial Survey Services – Killarney National Park Aerial Survey Services (Rhododendron)

Flights should be flown during the period of May 15th – June 10th in order to capture the peak flowering period of the invasive species Rhododendron ponticum and, in any case, no earlier than May 10th nor later than June 15th.

Imagery captured must be of sufficient resolution to identify flowering plants where they occur on open ground. Ortho-imagery with a resolution of 6-10 cm ground sample distance (GSD).


April 2021

The NPWS proposal for a “peer review” of Rhododendron control/eradication in Killarney National Park arose following a complaint to the European Commission by Groundwork Conservation Volunteers. The Groundwork complaint contended that a widespread significant deterioration had occurred in the conservation status of the Habitat Directive Annex I oakwood habitat in the west of Killarney National Park which constituted a breach of 92/43/EEC Article 6(2).

The habitat deterioration was caused by a deterioration in the rhododendron status of c.350ha of the western oakwoods which were cleared and maintained clear (sensu Irish Wildlife Manual No.33) of rhododendron by Groundwork in the period 1981 to 2005. This deterioration occurred when the woods in question were managed according to the procedures and methods then applied by KNP subsequent to the termination of the Groundwork maintenance.

In April 2017 NPWS contacted Mr Colin Edwards (Environment Policy Advisor at Scottish Forestry) stating that NPWS “is currently reviewing its strategy and methods for rhododendron management in Killarney National Park” and further stating “There has been some recent criticism of the progress and efficacy of the National Park’s management programme, and there is now a need for the most recent strategy to be
reviewed.” Mr Edwards’ immediate response to the initial short email was that he would be “happy in principle to act as an external reviewer”. A series of communications were exchanged between Mr Edwards and NPWS over several months, but Mr Edwards entered into no agreement to participate in the project (as revealed in AIE records). Nevertheless, in answer to a parliamentary question on 14 July 2020, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Catherine Martin (briefed presumably by NPWS) stated, “Despite agreement to participate from an independent overseas expert, it has subsequently not proved possible for him to undertake the review.”

“Happy in principle” (having received a six-line introductory email) and an “agreement to participate” are not the same thing.

In its UNESCO Biosphere Review of 2017, NPWS committed to an independent peer review to examine current rhododendron management practice in KNP. The review stated, “There has been some disagreement between the National Park authority and two stakeholder NGOs concerning the effectiveness of the maintenance programme …It is therefore planned to address this by … peer review of management practice…”

In its 2019 letter to the EU attempting to refute GW’s second formal complaint, NPWS stated that it had “put in place measures to provide independent expert review and advice on the rhododendron programme in Killarney National Park”.

In its letter to the Irish Times of 27 May 2019 NPWS stated, “This Department has also already commenced the process of a peer review ..” In her answer to the parliamentary question on 14 July 2020 Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Catherine Martin stated “the NPWS contracted an expert environmental company to undertake part 1 and 2 of this review. This work is now under way. The NPWS is open, and indeed is expecting, that the review will look at all relevant methods, issues and approaches, including that of the group mentioned by the Deputy.” We are aware that MKO is the expert environmental company referred to by the Minster and we believe that the “group” mentioned in the PQ
response is Groundwork.

On 6 August 2020 Groundwork was informed by Dr Philip Buckley (NPWS) that “The Peer Review is ongoing and currently under preparation by the consultants …” On 5 October 2020 Mr Trevor Donnelly (NPWS) further informed Groundwork that “the scope/approach of the review was finalised with the consultants in July 2019”. From the outset NPWS has emphasised the preeminent importance of the independent / external aspect of the proposed review. In February 2019 NPWS stated to the Irish Times “We hope it will be a fundamental and thorough review of all aspects of the work on rhodo in Killarney. We intend to bring the Groundwork reports (and work) to the attention of the reviewer(s), but exactly what they will focus on we can’t say or dictate.” In May 2019 NPWS informed MKO that “The review should seek to document what work has been done in KNP over the years, and determine as quantitively as possible how effective or not that has been. Both the strategy, programme and specific measures should be reviewed/evaluated. …Given we want it to be an ‘external process’, what how you go about/structure (sic) the review after that may be largely for you to decide.”

Given the independent /external nature of the review; given the stated centrality of Groundwork’s methods, programmes and views to the review; given that Groundwork’s methods, programmes and views have over a period of years been consistently and publicly criticised/ rejected by NPWS; and given that eighteen months after the scope/approach of the review was finalised no contact has yet been made with Groundwork by the reviewers, it would appear that Groundwork’s methods, programmes and views have been channelled/ articulated to the consultants by NPWS. This is obviously inappropriate as it nullifies the review, the primary purpose of which is to serve as independent enquiry.

To redress this, we have compiled the present submission

Rhododendron Ponticum: Removal (Groundwork, Ireland)

Groundwork’s focus has been on the removal of the invasive Rhododendron Ponticum from Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry

Other projects have been tackled including rhododendron clearance work in Glenveagh National Park, Co. Donegal and drain blocking on bogs in the midlands of Ireland.

Letter to European Commission regarding Groundwork/NPWS meeting May 2018

Appraisal of Killarney National Park UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Review January 2018

Groundwork appraisal of NPWS submissions to European Commission January 2017

Groundwork Woodland Survey – May 2018

Updated Overview of Groundwork Woods – June 2017

[19/06/2014] – Updated Groundwork Woodland Survey – Summer 2014
[14/01/2014] – Groundwork Woodland Survey – Summer 2013

Rhododendron ponticum: a guide to management on nature conservation sites

This guide is intended for use by ecologists, foresters, managers of nature conservation sites, and those carrying out control ‘on the ground’.

It seeks to provide a detailed summary of the available information about rhododendron which is relevant to its impacts on nature conservation and especially to its management.

The information provided is based on review of published literature and consultation with a wide group of people who have experience of rhododendron and its management.

A feasibility study on the ‘Removal and Management of the invasive species Rhododendron on a landscape level in the West of Ireland’

In Ireland one of the most serious invasive alien species posing a threat to biodiversity is rhododendron

Rhododendron poses one of the biggest threats to peatlands in the West of Ireland and can colonise habitats, causing significant problems unless properly eradicated and removed.

Under Regulation 27, EC (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011, the National Parks and Wildlife Service strives to prevent deterioration of blanket bogs, forests and heaths.

FORUM Connemara’s North Connemara Locally Led Agri-environmental Scheme (NCLLAES) funded by the Dept Agriculture, Food and the Marine under the European Innovation Partnership Programme team surveyed 10,000Ha and found 1,500Ha to be affected by invasive species (mostly rhododendron). The scheme didn’t have many farmers in the Kylemore area which is possibly the most affected area in Northwest Connemara.

In an effort to control this threat the Kylemore Abbey Trust, FORUM Connemara, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and Coillte Teo have come together to create a Rhododendron Working Group which is now pursuing the possibility for funding for a major project to tackle the problem in Northwest Connemara.

Previous Rhododendron tenders via eTenders (2015 to 2021)

These tenders are closed, but worth noting that there has been some local and regional tenders for rhododendron in West of Ireland

Rhodo Control Program Mayo
This tender seeks a suitable contractor to run a community led project which aims to develop and demonstrate a rhododendron control programme for the entire Bundorragha Catchment Co Mayo

Laurel Knockma
Request for Tenders by Department of the Housing, Local Government, and Heritage (NPWS) for Cherry Laurel and Rhododendron Clearance at Knockma Wood, Castlehacket, Caherlistrane, Co. Galway.

Rhodo Connemara NPRequest for Tenders by the Department of the Housing, Local Government, and Heritage (NPWS) for Rhododendron Clearance at Connemara National Park, Letterfrack, Co. Galway.


Invasive conifer and rhododendron removal from the Slieve Beagh ASSI for the CANN project

DHLGH – NPWS – Rhododendron Connemara National Park


Rhododendron Eradication KNPRhododendron Eradication Management Killarney National Park

Rhododendron Ponticum FW
Application for Inclusion on the National Parks and Wildlife Service Multi-Supplier Framework Agreement for the Provision of Maintenance and/or Eradication of Rhododendron Ponticum

RFT Rhododendron Killarney NPRFT for Provision of Rhododendron Eradication at Killarney National Park