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Call for citizen scientists to help map Rhododendron

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Citizens are being asked to play a part in mapping rhododendron to help control its spread.

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A new App, the National Biodiversity Data Centres, can be downloaded where members of the public can input data to help locate and treat the plant.

This ornamental plant, once prized for its beautiful flowers and usefulness as a hedge for creating shelter, was planted around Muckross in the 19th Century.

Since then it has spread to, or been planted in, many other locations and is a common sight in many areas. It is a species which originated from the Mediterranean and has done exceedingly well in our Irish climate, particularly here in Kerry.

Rhododendron has thrived at the expense of our own native habitats and species. The old oak woodlands, for which Killarney is renowned, are under serious threat from the invasion of this species, as are many of the peatland habitats such as the heath and bogs. Rhododendron can form dense thickets, blocking light, shading out native vegetation and preventing regeneration.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) have been tackling the Rhododendron in Killarney National Park for many years. In parts of the MacGillycuddy Reeks, such as the Gap of Dunloe and the Black Valley, Rhododendron is also becoming well established. Local farmers regularly comment on the rate of spread over the last 10-15 years and until recently, no action had been taken to address the spread.

Over the last two years, The MacGillycuddy Reeks European Innovation Partnership (EIP) Project, a locally led agri-environmental project, led by South Kerry Development Partnership, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine as part of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 which aims to improve the sustainability and economic viability of the farming in the MacGillycuddy Reeks, has been working with local landowners in the area to manage Rhododendron ponticum and prevent the loss of protected heath and bog habitats and grazing lands to this species. Given the nature of invasive species, and the speed at which they spread, early intervention leads to more efficient and successful treatment. For many landowners the prospect of dealing with well-established populations on their own is an incredibly daunting task.

BEST PRACTICE

With the support of the EIP project team, a collective working group has been established to assist farmers and landowners in treating rhododendron on their land. It has facilitated mandatory training (Hand Held Pesticide Application, QQI Level 5) on the correct use of pesticides and on best practice methods for treating Rhododendron for all farmers and members of the collective group carrying out this work.

Concerns have been raised about the spread of this invasive species throughout the Kerry UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and beyond where going unchecked it will have a significant impact on our native biodiversity. This year with funding from the National Biodiversity Action Plan (NPWS) and support from Kerry County Council and the Kerry Biosphere team in collaboration with the MacGillycuddy Reeks EIP Project have launched a campaign to raise awareness of this issue and begin the process of mapping the areas where this plant has spread to.

"We are asking citizens to play a part in mapping rhododendron ponticum throughout Kerry using the National Biodiversity Data Centres recording App so that the process of managing this invasive species can begin," Eleanor Turner, Biosphere Officer with the Kerry Biosphere Reserve, told the Killarney Advertiser.

"Later in the year demonstration events for treatment of rhododendron will be held for interested landowners, farmers and community groups."

Control of rhododendron is not a one-time treatment but must be carried out in several phases over a number of years. The Kerry UNESCO Biosphere Reserve will be working over the next number of years to support landowners, farmers and communities in managing this problem.

For more information follow the Kerry UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on Facebook @kerrybiosphere or email kerrybiosphere@skdp.net, or watch a demonstration video for treating rhododendron on Youtube @kerrybiosphere.

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Can you talk your way to fitness?

By Brian Foley from Activate Fitness Recently, our team at Activate was talking about the regular check-ins we do with our clients. We try to sit down with each client in person at least once every six months, if not once a quarter, and see how they are doing. If we can’t get them to […]

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By Brian Foley from Activate Fitness

Recently, our team at Activate was talking about the regular check-ins we do with our clients. We try to sit down with each client in person at least once every six months, if not once a quarter, and see how they are doing.

If we can’t get them to sit down with us, we’ll at least touch base via Zoom or phone. Text messages aren’t adequate to really understand how someone is doing and progressing as we help them towards their health goals, so we don’t count those.

What’s interesting is how difficult it can be sometimes to track down and set up a time to catch up with clients. In passing, it’s simple, but those conversations aren’t as focused and usually don’t allow us to get into why someone is or is not seeing the progress they need. So many times it’s something we all know we need to do, but to sit down and have a real conversation with someone about how they are doing can be tough, or even intimidating depending on the situation.

People start with us knowing we want to provide accountability, guidance, education, and motivation to help them accomplish their goals. But, when it comes down to the accountability portion, it can be difficult to want to talk about things that may not be going as planned.

However, when we look back at our most successful clients – those who have accomplished or are accomplishing what they set out to do when they started with us – they are the ones who actually seek us out to sit down and get help. When we ask them about their goals or if they have time, they are excited to catch up and see what they can improve. Or, they are asking us to help even before we reach out to them.

Those clients have not always had it easy either. Post lockdowns there were a lot of people re-orienting their schedule and lives and trying to make sense of what their goals needed to be. I personally had quite a few heavier conversations with people as we stepped through a plan to “reset” and get into a habit that fit their adjusted goals and schedules. Without those conversations, we may not have been able to help people as much as we are able to (thankfully).

ACCOUNTABILITY

For every area of your life; family, marriage, friendships, work; having accountability, a source of quality guidance, and motivation is as absolute must if you want to improve or progress. We can do some things alone, but we can do most of those things far better with others who have been there before or who can walk with us as we step through our journey towards our goals.

If you are looking to improve at anything in life, be it professionally, or with your health and fitness, the first step is to acknowledge where you are and then seek out a trusted source of information to help you clarify and align the moving parts to ensure you can get to where you want in the timeframe you want.

It’s why we start every member at Activate with a free consultation and why we continue to talk to our members. If we don’t know where you want to go, how can we help you get there? “Going to a gym” is fantastic and will be of huge benefit to your health, going to a gym that is invested in your journey multiplies this power exponentially.

So, no, you can’t “talk your way to fitness”, it takes many hours of work and consistency, but starting your journey with a good honest talk and someone in “your corner” will ensure you start – and continue – in the right direction.

To have a chat about your health and fitness goals, visit www.activate.ie and find out more.

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Former footballer to launch new book

By Sean Moriarty Former Senior Kerry footballer and ‘Dancing with the Stars’ winner Aidan O’Mahony will be in Eason on Saturday to sign copies of his new book. The Rathmore man enjoyed a distinguished career in the green and gold jersey, making 70 championship and 85 league appearances for Kerry between 2003 and 2017. In January 2017, […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Former Senior Kerry footballer and ‘Dancing with the Stars’ winner Aidan O’Mahony will be in Eason on Saturday to sign copies of his new book.

The Rathmore man enjoyed a distinguished career in the green and gold jersey, making 70 championship and 85 league appearances for Kerry between 2003 and 2017.

In January 2017, O’Mahony won the RTÉ ‘Dancing with the Stars’ series with professional dancer, Estonian Valeria Milova.

His new book ‘Unbroken’ is an account of the discipline it takes to be part of one of the country’s most successful Gaelic football teams. It is also a story of managing external and internal expectations and pressure, and of the importance of knowing when to ask for help.

“I am really looking forward to meeting everyone next Saturday, great to finally release my book and I hope people enjoy it,” he told Killarney Advertiser.

O’Mahony’s Killarney book signing will be the first of many around the country in the run up to Christmas.

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