The ecology and management of Ballybrack Woods and Beaumont Quarry: an exercise in urban greenspace management

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Horan, Sadhbh
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Community-Academic Research Links, University College Cork
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In this era of globalization, invasive alien species are quickly becoming one of the main drivers of environmental decline, and with more than half of the world’s population living in urban centres, the management of biodiversity within this ecosystem is of increasing importance. One such invasive species which is highly prevalent in urban ecosystems is winter heliotrope (Petasites fragrans (Vill.) C.Presl, (Asteraceae), a clonal plant species that has become invasive in the UK and Ireland. Information on this plant is limited, especially in relation to how it should be managed. It is well documented that clonal plants can be some of the most difficult to manage effectively. The aim of this study is to determine how winter heliotrope should be managed and if this invasive species should be a top priority for park managers to eradicate. This was tested in a number of ways including mapping the species distribution in two urban parks, collecting quantitative data on the species itself using quadrats, and gathering further information from organisations and individuals who have dealt with plant in the past. Another feature of this project is the public’s perception of invasive species in urban parks which was completed via questionnaire. Results found that densities of winter heliotrope were not affected by habitat or slope but were affected by canopy overhead and the presence of native broadleaved woodland. There were also significant differences in leaf height and diameter across zones. The questionnaires given to park users showed that alien species were not a priority and they were much more concerned with other aspects such as litter and antisocial behaviour. Finally, it was determined from interviews that park managers do not have access to sufficient information on invasive species or regulated long-term management plans in Ireland or elsewhere. This has highlighted the need for more comprehensive research into this area as a whole and specifically into invasives such as winter heliotrope.
Ecology , Urban greenspace management , Environmental decline
Horan, S. (2021) The ecology and management of Ballybrack Woods and Beaumont Quarry: an exercise in urban greenspace management . Cork: Community-Academic Research Links, University College Cork.
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©2021, Sadhbh Horan.