Calls to end Killarney’s Unesco status due to lack of conservation

The Irish Wildlife Trust has asked the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to suspend the designation of the Killarney National Park as a world biosphere reserve.

Calls to end Killarney’s Unesco status due to lack of conservation

The move comes amid increasing concern about the management of woodlands and deer, and threats posed by invasive species and grazing in the 10,129-hectare park.

The wildlife trust says Killarney has failed to maintain standards of conservation and protection and it should be forced to reapply for the coveted status the park uses to promote itself.

Killarney National Park is managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Ser- vice (NPWS). It was Ireland’s first national park.

In 1982, Unesco awarded Killarney biosphere reserve status, and included its cultural attractions, along with its woodlands, lakes, parkland, and gardens. Surrounding moorland also comes within the designation.

Biosphere reserves worldwide are a network of more than 600 reserves of unique ecological and cultural status in about 120 countries. Ireland has only two such reserves, including Killarney. Last year Unesco extended Bull Island reserve (awarded in 1981) to include Dublin Bay.

Killarney has not lived up to its status, the IWT says in a formal complaint lodged with Unesco last week.

The trust, established in 1979, which is concerned with habitats as well as wildlife, told the Paris-based Unesco it has had concerns for a number of years about the park’s “(mis)management”.

The culling of “the unique red deer population, the spread of alien invasive species, and overgrazing by herbivores, including domestic animals”, are among its concerns.

It also has grave concerns that periodic reviews, which should be carried out every 10 years or so, have not been undertaken, the IWT has said.

“The IWT would therefore like to lodge a complaint with Unesco for not upholding the standards for ‘biosphere’ status,” spokesman Padraic Fogarty has written. Mr Fogarty has also complained to Unesco about its lack of vigilance in asking for the periodic reviews.

“It would appear that the NPWS has come under no pressure to submit the required reports and arising thereof, to address the problems that exist,” said Mr Fogarty.

“We would suggest that the biosphere status is immediately suspended pending a review of the site, and perhaps that Killarney should reapply from scratch.”

The NPWS has said it is preparing a period review, in conjunction with Kerry County Council. National conservation groups have become vocal about upland burning and wildfires on the edge of the park; grazing by sheep and sika deer leading to lack of regeneration.

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