Tralee Municipal District Should Lead The Way In Biodiversity Policy Says Cllr

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Cllr Cathal Foley.

SINN Féin councillor, Cathal Foley, has asked Kerry County Council to explore new, more sensitive methods of grass and weed control throughout the county.

He made the call due to the success of the Tralee Municipal District’s effort to enhance biodiversity during the lock-down period ensuring the least negative impact on the environment.

Cllr Foley said, during the lockdown, the policy of not cutting the grass in public areas was widely lauded and people were delighted to see wildflowers blooming. He said there was more awareness of biodiversity among the public who realised “we don’t need every area to look like a tennis lawn”.

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He welcomed the measures being put in place by the Council but he would like to more done, including planting more wildflowers.

He also said he would like to see the Council eliminate the use of herbicides altogether. Cllr Foley said he hoped Tralee would set an example to the county and indeed the country when it came to the approach to biodiversity.

Council management outlined some of the work practices being implemented that support alternative means of managing its parks and open spaces in a more environmentally sensitive manner.

They have invested in a grass edger machine which has proved very effective in maintaining weeds along walkways in urban areas, as well as park and open spaces and in doing so has reduced their dependence on herbicides.

They said while sections of green areas adjacent to walkways in the Town Park were cut regularly during the COVID-19 lockdown to enable social distancing, this opportunity was used to trial a number of areas with regard to determining their suitability for being managed for biodiversity.

Two such areas have been identified which in turn will encourage pollination of plants in the park.

They are continually increasing the amount of recycling of organic waste. When grass-cutting operations are undertaken when grass is of a reasonable length, the cut grass is not collected and is instead “mulched” thus nourishing the soil.

They are at present experimenting with maintaining cut grass areas at a marginally longer length (approx. 25mm- 40mm longer) so as to retain some low-level flowers after cutting. The net result of this is that the volume of grass potentially being removed is dramatically reduced while low- level pollinators are retained.

Following pollarding of trees, the branches/leaves are mulched, and this mulch is then used on flower beds on Denny Street and in the Town Park. In relation to weeds, organic methods of weed control are continually being implemented.

In the Town Park, organic feeds such as chicken manure and seaweed plant food are used on flower beds and a seaweed-based fertiliser is also used on the roses in November.

They said milk/water mix is also used as an organic pesticide for the roses and has proved very successful for control of black spot.

The Council said new organic methods will continue to be explored and discussed with their Town Park gardeners and environment crew.

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