UNESCO has allowed Killarney National Park to retain and extend its biosphere reserve status. The decision followed a joint application by Kerry County Council and the National Parks & Wildlife Service. The title was first awarded in 1982.

There had been concerns about the application raised by the Irish Wildlife Trust and some landowners. IWT highlighted issues with rhododendron, wildfires and deer which it says has damaged woodland, while some landowners were worried about a possible impact on planning.

At a meeting in Paris last week, UNESCO’s Man And Biosphere Council confirmed that the Kerry UNESCO Biosphere Reserve will retain its designation as a Biosphere Reserve following the submission of a detailed Periodic Review completed by NPWS, Kerry County Council and by Galway consultants McCarthy, Keville O’Sullivan.

The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys, has today warmly congratulated the NPWS and Kerry County Council for their work in achieving the retention of the Kerry UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (previously Killarney National Park Biosphere Reserve).

Biosphere reserves are renowned for exceptional environments and a high diversity of life, and are an internationally recognised “badge” for excellence i sustainable development. Biosphere reserves are areas comprising terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. Each reserve promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. Biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments and remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located. Their status is internationally recognized.

Speaking today Minister Humphreys said: “I am delighted that UNESCO has recognised the conservation effort undertaken in the existing Reserve and the expanded zones within the expanded Biosphere Reserve and I would like to commend staff from the NPWS and Kerry County Council who worked together to make this happen. Achieving the title of Biosphere shows how important the Department views the protection of our areas of natural heritage.

“This site is one of two in Ireland which acts as a site of excellence for conservation, research and education. My Department, in partnership with Kerry County Council, is committed to significantly strengthening integrated measures in line with the philosophy of the Man and the Biosphere Programme and Biosphere Reserves.

“I am confident that our commitment to proactive conservation scientific endeavour and education for the sustainable use of biodiversity will deliver the best results for the expanded UNESCO Kerry Biosphere Reserve.”