Invasive Species in Ireland

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Invasive Species in Dublin

What are the invasive species in Ireland?

Invasive species are flora and fauna (plants and animals) which are not native to Ireland and can take over Irish habitats without the usual predators and limits in their own native ecosystems to stop them.  Invasive species are the second greatest threat to biodiversity world-wide after habitat destruction, and they cost the Irish economy by damaging our fisheries, blocking navigation, reducing agricultural outputs and wasting resources.  Estimated costs to the European economy are €12.7 billion each year.  To read more on invasive species go to the Government website:

Invasive species of plants can be spread by wind, water, movement of soil, people and animals.  Invasive species of animals may be highly mobile in their own right, be deliberately spread by people, or travel by water or soil or through goods in transit.
A list of all invasive species legally designated in Ireland can be found in the European Communities (Birds and Habitats) Regulations 2011 which you can read or download from the Government website:

What is Dublin City Council doing about this?

Dublin City Council is the first Local Authority in Ireland to produce an Invasive Alien Species Action Plan (2016-2020) - to read the plan click here.
The objectives of the Plan are to control and reduce the spread of existing IAS, and to prevent any new IAS from establishing in the city. The European Union passed new IAS Regulations in 2014, to be further enacted in 2016.  The Dublin City IAS Action Plan (2016 – 2020) examines its implications for Dublin City Council, and covers the first reporting period under the Regulations. The Plan includes a risk assessment for Dublin City Council of each of the legally designated species in Ireland based on known records within its administrative area.  The Plan includes specific responsibilities for contractors working for the City Council.  These include requirements for recording of any invasive alien species encountered on site, for transport of soils, disposal of material and for site management.  There are also requirements for planning consent, and DCC has been including specific planning conditions for IAS management plans since 2011.

DCC and Inland Fisheries Ireland installing jute matting to control invasive aquatic plants in the ponds of Darndale Park

A joint project by Dublin City Council and Inland Fisheries Ireland on control of invasive species received recognition from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and was included in their publication -  Invasive alien species: the urban dimension (2013).  We are trying out new methods to control invasive plants at Darndale Park and Tolka Valley Park which avoid the use of chemicals. To find out more, download the publication from the IUCN.

The Tolka Valley Park project is a pilot project as part of a European Union LIFE Project called Renew4GPP to use renewable and biodegradable materials for erosion and weed control.  This was used as part of the construction of the Tolka Valley Greenway and the Irish Times showcased the project in 2013. Download this article by P. Woodworth here.

A DCC project to tackle an invasive species called sea buckthorn on North Bull Island was recently highlighted by the Irish Times.  This project has been going on since 2010 in cooperation with the 2 golf clubs (St. Anne’s and Royal Dublin) on the Island to conserve the dune habitats, which are protected by European law.  The plant was introduced by the golf clubs originally as a barrier hedge, but unfortunately its seeds are carried by birds (who enjoy its fruit) into the protected areas, where it takes over the native rare vegetation.

What can you do? 

  • Ensure that you know what invasive species look like by looking at the Invasive Species Ireland website.
  • Do not introduce any plants or animals into your local parks or watercourses without permission of Dublin City Council.  Sometimes, unwanted pets, aquarium fish or plants or other plants are introduced by members of the public without regard to the consequences for wildlife and parks maintenance in future.
  • Remove any invasive species on your land, following the Best Practice Guidelines.
  • Ensure that, when moving soil, you do not spread invasive species by bringing soil from areas which may contain seeds of invasive plants into new areas.
  • Send your records of sightings of invasive species to the National Biodiversity Data Centre to help the national database at
  • Download the free app from Inland Fisheries Ireland to help identify invasive species on Dublin’s waterways if you see them.

The control of invasive species on private lands is the legal responsibility of each landowner. Tackling the problem requires assistance of all citizens of Dublin City to protect our environment for the future and save on costs in the present.

National Fisheries Awareness Week image

Photo:  Minister Fergus O’Dowd, T.D, Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources with Dr. Ciaran Byrne (CEO) and Dr. Joe Caffrey (Senior Research Officer), both of Inland Fisheries Ireland, former Lord Mayor, Cllr. Andrew Montague and DCC Parks Superintendent for Biodiversity, Maryann Harris, tackling Himalyan balsam on the River Dodder at Bushy Park with local volunteers  from Dodder Anglers Association and Irish Wildlife Trust for National Fisheries Awareness Week.

Read the report on invasive species

Japanese knotweed

Protocols for Japanese knotweed are included in the Dublin City Invasive Alien Species Action Plan. The National Biodiversity Data Centre has prepared a list of Frequently Asked Questions on Japanese knotweed

For more information

Parks & Landscape Services
Ground Floor
Block 4
Civic Offices
Wood Quay
Dublin 8

Tel: (01) 222 5278