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An Creagan

An Creagan's Invasive Species

Throughout Northern Ireland’s history there have been a number of voluntary and involuntary introduction of plants that have threatened many delicate eco-systems across the region. The Creagan area is one such eco-system that has experienced the impact of these “invasive species” with a handful of plants causing problems and posing a threat to local flora and fauna.

One such plant located on the An Creagan site is the Rhododendron Ponticum, a large shrub introduced to Ireland in the 18th century. The shrub thrives in acidic bogland conditions and despite being sparsely populated on the An Creagan site, it has the potential to cause significant damage to local wildlife. The shrub’s dense growth can consequently block out light levels as well as drying out the soil below, preventing other plants to grow. Moreover the plant is uneatable for mammals and most invertebrates, proving to be toxic in many cases.

Another invasive species residing in the An Creagan site is the Himalayan Balsam, consisting of pinky red stems and dark green leaves, originating from the Himalayan Mountains of Southern Asia and introduced to Ireland in the 19th century. In 2016 it is commonly found on damp ground in woodland or along the banks of rivers. Despite being present on only one known site in the Creagan area the species can spread rapidly with seed pods exploding, transferring seeds up to 20ft in distance, meaning it can quickly engulf any habitat it’s located in. This plant was eradicated quickly when discovered 6 years ago and has not reappeared since. 

The most populated non-native species in the Creagan region however is the Spruce and Pine tree. The majority of the coniferous trees located on site are non-native and were introduced to Ireland for the use of timber production. The problem occurring with these trees is the ability of tree saplings to survive in bogland and producing seed of their own that can then be further carried across the land, containing little or no biodiversity value, and do not provide food or homes for local wildlife. These species alone are a major threat to our precious raised bog habitats.