Opinion: An ecological menace that's out of control at a park near you
History offers plenty of examples of subjects that we once regarded as blessings being subsequently revealed as curses.
A few that spring to mind are tobacco, DDT and thalidomide. After attending an event in Abbeyleix Bog to launch National Biodiversity Week, I would add rhododendron to that list.
Abbeyleix Bog is a fantastic amenity on our doorstep. Passing under the new wooden archway from the adjoining hotel carpark onto the path of an old railway line which runs through the bog is like stepping into a wardrobe and through to the fantasy world of Narnia.
The mixed habitat is teeming with plant and animal life, big and small. On every visit, there is something different to be experienced (this time, we heard the cuckoo); the morning is different to the evening, when it's raining to when it's sunny.
The hotel receptionist said they get several phonecalls every day about the bog, and I know of people who regularly travel from the surrounding counties to experience the continuous change.
The 500 acres is owned, and was formerly worked, by Bord na Mona but in 2010 the company handed the bog over to the local community to manage it for 50 years, with the primary focus on conservation.
The launch was chaired by well-known environmental commentator Éanna Ní Lamhna, who said that a question she is still regularly asked is, "what is biodiversity all about anyway?"
Her perpetual, typically direct, reply is: "It's not hard to understand - biology is living things, and diversity is variety."