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Case Study:

South Dublin - Developing Park Meadowlands



South Dublin County Council was aware that many of its parklands had potential for species-rich meadowlands, which would benefit from changed mowing regimes and promote biodiversity. Regular mowing (on a typical two-week cycle) was encouraging the growth of a mainly grass sward, which then out-performed the slower-growing meadowland species. Regular mowing also prevented meadowland species from flowering (which provides food for pollinators).


Altered mowing regimes have been put in place over several years in South Dublin County Council’s larger parks for the benefit of pollinators and biodiversity. The implementation of meadowlands was underway on an informal basis within the parklands over many years. However, in 2017 South Dublin County Council’s Heritage Officer carried out botanical and insect questionnaires that demonstrated the enormous biodiversity potential of the parkland sites. A formal project commenced in 2017 with 13 separate areas in Tymon Park totalling 18 hectares, and three areas along the Dodder Valley Park totalling five hectares. These areas were chosen for their soil types, the nature of their botanical composition, and their contribution to the amenity enjoyment of these parks. In 2019, these areas of wildflower meadowland have been increased to 90 hectares over various locations within South Dublin County Council parks (Figure 1). Increased signage highlighting the presence of the meadowlands and benefits to pollinators was also erected at these locations in 2019, which was of benefit from a public engagement point of view. Friends of Tymon Park (a local community group) worked with Council staff on several initiatives within the park and assisted South Dublin County Council’s Heritage Officer in quantifying the number of orchids present in 2019. This has proven to be a popular and highly successful climate change action with thousands of orchids being counted in 2019 and much positive comment and feedback being received from members of the public via social media and other channels. Following this, it is the Council’s intention to carry out ecological questionnaires in 2020 in these meadows and document their success to date in terms of supporting insects and wildlife. This will allow the Council to evaluate other locations for this reduced mowing approach. These wildflower meadows are highly important for pollinators as a significant number of meadowland species are native or naturalised and support local pollinators. For instance, the mowing regime in Tymon Park over many years has supported an annual flowering of cowslips – an early food source for insects.

Benefits of solution

The environmental benefits of this solution include: 4 increased biodiversity within parklands and the development of Priority I habitats (under Annex I of the Habitats Directive) at several locations; 

- increased support for pollinators – an insect questionnaire found the presence of a very rare species that had not been recorded in Ireland since the 1920s; 
- a decreased carbon foot print through reduced maintenance regimes as in-cut meadows act as improved carbon sinks over grassland; and, 
- fauna protection shelter and food for a wide range of animals such as amphibians, birds (particularly ground-nesting species) and mammals, e.g., hedgehogs.

Less machinery wear and tear and decreased fuel costs contribute to economic benefits for South Dublin County Council.

A positive public perception of the work of South Dublin County Council, including positive feedback from the public and the media.

Figure 1: Wildflower meadows, South Dublin County Council.

Project Details:

2017 onwards
Local authority project contact
Suzanne Furlong
Senior Parks Superintendent

Leo Magee
Senior Engineer

Rosaleen Dwyer
Heritage Officer