Community response arrests the spread of Invasive Species in Kilkenny

The spread of the Invasive species Himalayan Balsam has been the target of a community intervention along the River Nore in the Kilkenny City area and its tributary the River Breagagh. Himalayan Balsam is one of Ireland’s most invasive plant species and is considered to be a threat to wildlife ecology along rivers especially their riparian areas, and so is an issue that should be addressed under the Water Framework Directive.

Removing Himalayan balsam is not straightforward and requires a lot of man power, community and river stakeholder intervention. The Tidy Towns Committee, Keep Kilkenny Beautiful and its Biodiversity Committee first targeted Himalayan balsam which had become rampant on the River Bregagh, which is a tributary of the River Nore flowing through Kilkenny City in 2015 .

The River Breagagh is a tributary of the River Nore which rises to the south west of Kilkenny and meanders through the greater southern and western environs of the old city and flows under city walls and Abbeys where it joins the River Nore.

Community volunteers cleared the upper part of the affected areas in the months of June and July in 2015 and 2016 and concentrated on preventing any re-emergence in this area for the remainder of the year. Progress on the first year of the River Breagagh Himalayan balsam campaign would have been greater but for an outbreak of Giant hogweed on the River Nore to which a number of the Breagagh volunteers responded.

A response to combat the Giant hogweed’s threat to public health and the rivers ecology was directed by the local National Parks and Wildlife Officer, and included individuals from the Tidy Towns biodiversity group, the Local Sub Aqua Club, the Kilkenny Anglers and the Local Canoeing Club. The result of this intervention was that 70 or so Giant hogweed plants were treated and their seed heads removed preventing them from going to ground and germinating. The same Giant hogweed response team have been proactive again this year and it is hoped that one invasive species epidemic has been averted and is under control.

In May of  2016 the River Breagagh Himalayan balsam campaign resumed and the stakeholder groups that so successfully responded to the previous years outbreak of Giant hogweed spearheaded the completion of the removal of all stands of the invasive species from the River Breagagh tributary. The important participation of the rivers amenity stakeholders in this difficult access phase of treatment also released experienced volunteers to participate in the removal of Himalayan balsam downstream of the River Breagagh confluence.

The Tidy Towns, River Nore Himalayan balsam  removal campaign began in May 2006  on the popular Lacken and Canal walk areas of the river downstream of the River Breagagh and a strong community response has seen large areas of infestation being cleared and indigenous habitat being restored.

Earlier removal of invasive species on the River Breagagh has already resulted in a return of nesting ducks and foraging swans to the restored grass leavey island and riverbank habitat and a return of a pair of squawking water hens to what had previously become an impenetrable forest of Balsam. The intervention and participation of Tidy Towns cross community volunteers and river amenity stakeholders in biodiversity advocacy projects is heralding a new dawn in river conservation on the River Nore and its tributaries in Kilkenny.

In 2017 further extensive removals took place throughout the May – August  season 2017 and in addition extending the work area down river to south east of the Ossory bridge with maintenance of other areas which had been substantially cleared in previous years. The main aim was to remove the plant prior to seeding and to pick as early as possible while its biomass level was low  and damage/shadow  to adjoining plants was minimised. As in previous years all of the plants were collected by hand and where composted on site adjacent to the river in locations above the floodplain.This work as allowed all to have a greater appreciation of the amenity available along the river Nore/Breagagh  in the Kilkenny area.

Balsam removal on the river Breagagh near the junction with the river Nore

Team from Statestreet bank working to remove balsam during 2017 during Community action day

Balsam removal during 2017

 Keep Kilkenny Beautiful

River Nore rises to new levels

Over the last number of weeks we have seen the river Nore rise and rise. The Nore  still quite a wild river with many tree-lined natural banks. When the river rises the floodplains turn into lakes. Trees along the riverbank  where undermined and weakened are washed down the river. The City boardwalk was just above the flood level.

Not a time for swimming as the wild river Nore washes whole trees and their roots  down the river

With the water at such a high level the newly completed mural at Ossory bridge looks like it is swimming in the river.

The river boardwalk  between Ossory bridge and the City centre is just above the flood level

Kilkenny County Hall gardens look wonderful!

Our County Hall looks fantastic in the winter sun. Extensive work is under way   on the attractive riverside gardens and paths. The River Nore walk also goes through  the grounds.  There is a free car park in the grounds at the weekend where you can  start a wonderful river and city walk.

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River Nore walk featured in Irish Times

The wonderful  River Nore walk between Kilkenny and Bennettsbridge was featured in the Irish Times. The trail stretches for 11 km and starts at Canal square under Kilkenny Castle. There is also a very attractive  loop and board walk  starting at Canal square. this extends   as far as the new pedestrian bridge at Ossory  Bridge  and back on the opposite river side.   This  loop which meanders through a wooded area  along the river Nore is  c.5km in length.   The City Loop was only completed in 2014 and it is already  very popular with visitors.

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A start can be made  at Kilkenny castle. The walk is directly under the imposing castle.

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Under is a view of the  extensively wooded valley between Kilkenny castle and Ossory bridge which forms the  attractive walking loop close to the City.river nore from the Lacken Viewing point

 

Well done to Kilkenny Sub Aqua Club

The Sub Aqua Club did more than their fair share of helping keep their city beautiful with a huge effort from their members in cleaning up the river Nore during the week. Our river Nore is one of our city’s amazing resources and this group of dedicated volunteers collected much as a result of others not appreciating it.  Throwing rubbish in the river does not make it disappear!!!!!! subaqua

Plant 1 million trees in one day: Kilkenny City takes part!

Kilkenny City  is taking part in the “one million trees in one day” initiative. We are currently working with our City Authorities and  Residents associations  to identify and prepare suitable planting locations within our City. The  tree planting   is to take place during the period  Friday 22nd March 2013 – Saturday 23rd March 2013. Planting will begin at 12 noon on Friday and will finish at 12 noon on Saturday.

River Nore Weir and extensive forest on the Canal walk  close to Kilkenny City Centre. Copyright: Keep Kilkenny Beautiful

The River Nore and associated wooded areas and meadows reach right into our City centre.  The planting of new trees   along the river Nore as part of this initiative  will enhance our Environment and be of benefit to our wildlife and biodiversity.

If you wish to assist or volunteer on this initiative please contact us at mail@keepkilkennybeautiful.com

Further information on the initiative can be found at www.onemilliontreesinoneday.com