Sir, - I refer to the letter from M. W. Walker (July 31st). As many of your readers may know, Booterstown Marsh has been owned by An Taisce (The National Trust for Ireland) for the nation as the Booterstown Nature Reserve since the 1970s. Its management is carried out solely by voluntary effort by members of An Taisce and Birdwatch Ireland, with the guidance of the Booterstown Reserve Advisory Committee chaired by myself and comprising An Taisce, Birdwatch Ireland and scientists from UCD and TCD among others, all of whom volunteer their time freely. We are also assisted by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, which owns the sluice gates, and by Dublin Corporation, which monitors water quality; the Wildlife Service advises on the habitat of Puccinellia faseiculato, a Red Data Book plant species which grows there.
In recent years the marsh has begun to dry out due to less fresh water entering it because of development of the land in the St Helen's area and the gradual rise in Dublin Bay. A separate occurrence of a number of pollution incidents left the marsh contaminated. These events resulted in a decline in the number of invertebrates in the sediments which caused a reduction in the number of visiting birds and the spread of Seripus maritimus, a rush which threatens the habitat of the Red Data Book plant. This year the committee advised that the sea should be allowed to flood the marsh at each high tide in order to flush out the residue of the pollution and to knock back the Seripus population. This has caused an immediate increase in the numbers of birds visiting the marsh and the available habitat for the Puccinellia is drying out.
It is the intention that the marsh should be allowed to dry for the rest of the season and accordingly the sluice gates are to be closed from now until later this year. Incidentally, An Taisce is firmly opposed to the idea of an eastern motorway and has made this clear to the promoters. We will resist the acquisition of the Booterstown Reserve for this or any such purpose, along with other interested parties. By the way, the presence of a Red Data Book plant confers protection under international and EU law. - Yours, etc., John Ducie, Chairman,
Dun Laoghaire Association of An Taisce, c/o The Tailors Hall, Back Lane, Dublin 8.