South Dublin council to review destruction of wetland eco-system

Conservationists estimate thousands of creatures killed in destruction of parcel of wetland

Thousands of creatures have been killed during the unexplained destruction of a ‘unique little gem’ of a nature reserve in south Dublin, conservationists have said.

Thousands of creatures have been killed during the unexplained destruction of a ‘unique little gem’ of a nature reserve in south Dublin, conservationists have said.


South Dublin County Council is to carry out an immediate review of its practices surrounding the dumping of silt after an entire eco-system in a park in Tallaght was destroyed.

Conservationists estimated that thousands of creatures were killed in the destruction of a parcel of wetland at Sean Walsh Memorial Park.

The area has been used for decades as a dumping ground for silt, but had rewilded itself into a “little miracle” that was home to several protected species, including frogs, newts, eels and bats, according to experts.

Collie Ennis, a research associate at Trinity College Dublin and science officer with the Herpetological Society of Ireland, discovered the eco-system just before Christmas last year during a survey of wetlands in south Dublin.

He informed South Dublin County Council of the discovery and protection measures were included in the local authority’s masterplan for Tallaght for the next six years. Mr Ennis said the council were “very enthusiastic about protecting it”.

However, on a trip to the wetland on Saturday to carry out a new survey of the wildlife Mr Ennis found that the entire reserve was “flattened like a carpark” and covered in heavy machinery tracks.

“It had completely gone,” he said. “It was like the surface of the moon. Just blank. Flattened.”

In a statement to The Irish Times on Monday, South Dublin County Council said silt removed from a nearby lake was drained and placed in mounds on the parcel of land, which were then levelled.

“As part of a planned process of removing built-up silt and illegally dumped rubbish from the man-made lakes in Sean Walsh Park, South Dublin County Council carried out de-silting works during the summer months,” it said.

“The de-silting and cleaning of the lakes is essential for improving the natural habitat of the park and for flood alleviation measures in the area.

“While in excess of 40 tonnes of illegally dumped rubbish was removed off-site, the drained silt was placed in mounds on an uncultivated area of the park to the north of the wetlands in Sean Walsh Park.

“The council has habitually used this area for depositing silt and last did so when carrying out works on the larger lake in 2018.

“Following these works in Sean Walsh Park, the silt mounds were levelled. The council will immediately review the practice of the disposal of silt drained from lakes. However, best practice dictates that the material removed is placed as close to the origin as possible.

“The council will continue to work to enhance the wetlands in Sean Walsh Park and in the county through its Constructed Wetlands Programme. The council will also continue to deliver on the commitments given through our Climate Change Action Plan.”

Mr Ennis described the nature parcel of land as “totally unique” and home to critically endangered European eels.

“It was a little miracle, a mosaic of habitats, with muds, grassy areas, reed beds, willow trees - everything you can imagine within a small space,” he said.

“There were newts, frogs, bats, critically-endangered European eels, all sorts of insects, wildflowers you wouldn’t expect to find. It was just a little gem. I was blown away by it – you would never expect to find this in an urban area.”