New Conservation Action Plans for Bats and rare Fern


Mr John Gormley, TD, Minister for the Environment, Heritage & Local Government has announced that two new species action plans (SAPs) have been published by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of his Department.

One of the plans covers nine species of bats and the other relates to the rare Killarney Fern.

Although recent surveys suggest that most bats are doing well in Ireland, significant declines in some species have been reported elsewhere in Europe. The new plan outlines the conservation actions needed to secure the future of bats throughout the island of Ireland over the coming five years.

Thirty-seven specific actions are listed - including the provision of grants for home-owners who manage bat roosts, an expansion of the current national bat monitoring programme, improved woodland management practises for bats and the creation of bat awareness and education packs for schools.

Welcoming the launch of the bat SAP, Minister John Gormley emphasised the need for further education about bats. “I am glad to see that education is given such a high priority in this plan” - he said. “There are many myths circulating about bats, but bats are intelligent, social animals. They use a very sophisticated sonar system and I think if more people had a chance to see these animals up close, I am sure they would be converted.”

The Minister went on to highlight the importance of bats as barometers of countryside health. “Bats act as indicators for many other species and for many of our habitats” - he said. “When bats are doing well, then we know that the countryside, in general, is in good shape.”

The second SAP covers the Killarney Fern. The Killarney Fern is a slow-growing fern that lives in deeply shaded habitats such as dripping caves, crevices on cliffs, gullies by waterfalls and occasionally on damp woodland floors.

The Killarney Fern is a rare species only found in Ireland, Great Britain, Madeira, the Canaries and the Azores and a handful of other countries.  Widespread fern-collecting during Victorian times is one of the main reasons why the species became rare. The species is now strictly protected under Irish and EU law. “Ireland is a stronghold for the Killarney Fern” - said Minister Gormley - “and this action plan is a recognition of Ireland’s international responsibility to look after the species.”

The two action plans are the result of close collaboration efforts between the NPWS in the south and the Environment and Heritage Service [EHS] in Northern Ireland and, during the launch, Minister Gormley highlighted the necessity for all-Ireland cooperation on species conservation matters.

“The Killarney fern and our bats are subject to same pressures in the North as they are in the South” - he said - “and a co-ordinated approach to their conservation makes sense. Staff in my Department will continue to work closely with our colleagues in the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland to secure the future conservation of these important species.”

Previous all-Ireland species action plans have been developed for the hare, the corncrake, Irish lady’s tresses orchid and the pollan – a rare fish found only in Ireland.  Implementation of these plans is underway. A further all-Ireland SAP for the red squirrel will be published shortly.

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