Nature goes wild in the City

St. Anne’s Park

Councillor Heney wishes to advise constituents that some of the actions taken by Dublin City Council to improve biodiversity in the City include the gradual ‘wilding’ of amenity grassland in its parks, open spaces, roadside verges and graveyards to allow wild flowers, which in the past have been considered weeds, to flower and seed. (see Biodiversity Action Plan (2015-2020)

Mowing regimes in peripheral areas of parks and on verges have been adjusted to allow the grasses and suppressed wildflower species such as clover and dandelion to grow and provide habitat and food for insects, bees and other pollinators.

Les Moore, Chief Parks Superintendent said: “the reduced frequency of mowing in many areas has been supplemented by the mass planting of bulbs to take areas out of the mowing cycle for a number of months. These bulb mixes that herald the arrival of spring are visible at the moment and include muscari, gladiolus, camassia, tulips and allium as well as daffodils. These combinations of bulbs flower well into May and are cut back mid to late June. We are also trialling various wildflower seed mixes which will last well into autumn and would require cutting only once a year.”

This wilding policy has coincided with the elimination of the use of the chemical glyphosate as a herbicide and the use of all such chemicals has been significantly reduced over the last four years. Many parks, and all playgrounds, are now chemical free. Alternative methodologies for weed control using manual methods, electric strimmers, heavy mulching and plant-based products for spraying including concentrations of vinegar are being trialled.

Lorraine Bull, Biodiversity Officer said: “This year we expect that over 80% of Dublin City Council planting schemes will be suitable for pollinators. The support of local people is critical in this journey as the traditional scorched earth policy of eliminating every ‘weed’ must change. Although aesthetically this mean that ‘weeds’ will be more evident, wild flowers are an essential food source for bees and many insects which in turn feed into a wider ecosystem.”

To promote this positive change the staff of Parks, Biodiversity and Landscape Services have been working with local community and Tidy Towns groups to improve greenspaces for bees and other pollinators. Lorraine Bull added “All across the city we have worked with the local community to plant trees to help implement greening strategies in those parts of the city which traditionally had a deficit of green infrastructure. Several of these projects are now seeing practical results.”