Meet the Defenders of the Earth against the Alien Invasion!


Photo shows Paula Kearney (Galway City Council Biodiversity Officer), Conor Ruane and Michael Sheridan from LAWPRO with Tuesday's Tuatha volunteer crew from the ARM corporation ready to begin the campaign to eradicate invasive species from Terryland Forest Park.
Paula, Conor and Michael give us very informative talks on the invasive species prevalent in the West of Ireland, Galway and Terryland Forest Park, the damage that they cause and how they can be eradicated or, at the very least, controlled.
After the talks came the hard work as the volunteers, under the supervision of Paula, used 8 tonnes of mulch and ample amounts of cardboard (donated by Smyths Toys, City Council, ARM and University of Galway) to cover an area of woodland infested with Winter Heliotrope. This result will be monitored by us and city council over the next few months and will serve as a pilot on how the scourge of this plant can be tackled in a non-chemical way.
Winter Heliotrope flowers from November to March and for that reason it seems to have been originally brought into Ireland to provide winter feed for bees and was planted near bee hives. But sadly it now has spread like wildfire across the country covering huge areas of ground with a giant carpet smothering any possibility of growth by other fauna. Two weeks ago I spent a few day working in Dublin and was shocked to see it covering much of the embankments along much of the DART line from Dun Laoghaire to Killiney.

Finally it was great to have Kieran Ryan participate in today's activity. Kieran is involved in a significant reafforestation and rewilding project near Kiltimagh. The Tuatha volunteers hope to visit this Mayo initiative over the summer period.

The Aliens have landed!

Winter heliotrope, one of the invasive species within Terryland Forest

morrow (Tuesday) volunteers are tackling the alien species that have invaded Terryland Forest Park and which are colonising large areas within the park forcing out the native plant life.

As part of Invasive Species Week 15th – 21st May, Galway City Council, LAWPRO and Tuatha (volunteers) of Terryland Forest Park are conducting a walk through Terryland Forest Park tomorrow May 16th to areas infested with terrestrial and aquatic non-native Invasive Alien Species (IAS). IAS are extremely difficult and costly to control and eradicate, and their ecological effects can be irreversible.
All are welcome.
We will look at the identifying the species, risks to the environment and infrastructure, management measures and best practice such as the ’Check Clean Dry’ protocol for water users to minimise the spread of aquatic invasives. Working with volunteers, we will trial a herbicide free method of controlling winter heliotrope (see photo) within the woodland.
The invasive species being discussed include Japanese Knotweed (Reynoutria japonica), Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) and Canadian Waterweed (Elodea canadensis).
Invasive Species Week is an annual national event to raise awareness of the impacts of invasive species and to celebrate action being taken to prevent their spread. Organisations across the UK, Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey, and Isle of Man join together to lead activities and share information on the simple things that everyone can do to help prevent the spread of invasive species. Each day will involve focusing on a different theme:
The walk will commence at 11am Tuesday 16th May at the Sandy Road entrance to Terryland Forest

'The Fairy Tree’- Symbol of Magic and of Summer.

May is the month of the white blossom when hedgerows and field boundaries across rural Ireland are dotted with trees covered with what from a distance looks like snow but is instead the beautiful white flowers of the Hawthorn tree. Associated with the fairies, the hawthorn or whitethorn was oftentimes feared by Irish people and in many parts of the country was never brought inside a house. People of my generation were the last generation to truly believe in its connection with the Sí (sidhe) and my own wife for this reason stopped me planting hawthorns in our garden when we first got married!

The remains of prehistoric dwellings known as ‘fairy forts’ dot the Irish landscape and are usually evident by the presence of clumps of hawthorn bushes. Solitary hawthorn trees can also be seen in many farmed fields in rural Ireland. In both instances, local people in my time would never cut them down lest bad luck would befall them. This fear may also have something to do with the scent of the hawthorn flower. It is the chemical compound triethylamine, which is one of the first chemicals produced when a human body starts to decompose.
But triethylamine is also found in human semen and vaginal secretions. So no wonder the tree with its white blossom symbolised the lusty month of May, the arrival of summer as the season of fertility and growth. It was when a hawthorn branch on a tree would be decorated with ribbons, pieces of cloth and flowers requesting a good harvest.
As with the ash, it was also associated with holy wells which were also linked to female fertility.
By September, the pollinated flowers become lush red fruits known as haws.
The April leaves were used as a green salad in sandwiches. Jelly was made from the red berries.