Responding to calls for improved lighting in the Phoenix Park in Dublin, the OPW has confirmed that it is committed to providing maximum amenities and resources of the Park from dawn to dusk. In recent months, additional footpaths and cycle lanes were created to provide additional space for the public to social distance. There has been a substantial spread of visitors throughout the day including the lunchtime period during weekdays.
The OPW does not support lighting up the Phoenix Park at night because, with biodiversity under threat both nationally and worldwide, we are committed to raising awareness and encouraging positive engagement with Ireland’s habitats and species, particularly at sites and properties for which we have a responsibility on behalf of the State.
By definition, the Phoenix Park is an area of natural space set aside for recreation and for the protection of wildlife and natural habitats. The Park itself has over 25 different types of habitats and supports over 50 per cent of the mammals and 40 per cent of bird species found in Ireland. Low light levels support the natural habitats of the fauna of the Park – a diverse range of mammals, birds and invertebrates can be found in the Park.
In cities, towns and suburbs across Ireland, nature is often in close proximity and many of us are fortunate to have the opportunity to engage with it on a daily basis. With privilege comes responsibility; society as a whole also has an obligation to prevent biodiversity loss and to protect and enhance our natural environment. The OPW has a significant role to play in this challenge.
Biodiversity is the sum of the millions of species and habitats on our planet working together to generate and sustain life as we know it. Continued awareness of biodiversity and its importance to our lives is crucial.
The Park was designed as a Deer Park in 1662 and is still maintained to support over 600 wild Fallow Deer. The Deer graze and feed across all areas of the Park and the installation of artificial lights would impact their movements across the Park at night.
Recent studies highlight the impact that artificial lighting has on nocturnal pollination species and this in turn is having negative consequences for plant pollination, worldwide. Lighting the Park at night would create the paradox that the biodiversity that helps to sustain and improve our quality of life would become more vulnerable.
The OPW is taking a conscious approach to supporting biodiversity, ensuring that efforts and achievements are built upon and mainstreamed across decision making processes.
The Phoenix Park is one of the few remaining public areas in Europe that still relies on gas for public lighting. The decision to preserve this unique system was made to support the conservation of the historic fabric of the Park and to retain low levels of light pollution, so that the Park can remain one of the few locations in Dublin where star gazing is possible. Gas was first introduced into the Park in 1859 by the Hibernian Gas Company and is a major visual element in the Park’s landscape.
The conservation and preservation of these features along with the architecture, built environment, archaeology, biodiversity and landscape are key objectives in the Phoenix Park Conservation Management Plan 2011.