Research Projects

PHD Student Ita Kenny

Ita Kenny

Current PhD Student

Invasive plant species and the farming sector in Ireland

This research project will explore levels of awareness among the farming community about the potential impact of invasive plant species and how they should be identified and managed correctly. This research will be used to create a training programme aimed at supporting farmers to improve their knowledge in this area and how to address the issues surrounding invasive plant species. Invasive plant species pose a significant risk to the Irish landscape and to local biodiversity. While policies have been developed to address these issues, there is a significant disjuncture between levels of knowledge among professionals such as ecologists and farmers’ awareness and how to resolve it. As the largest landowning cohort in Ireland, this lack of effective engagement with farmers means that any current efforts to mitigate against the growing threat posed by invasive plant species are likely to be of limited impact. As part of this research, a multi methods approach will be employed combining qualitative and quantitative data collection in the form of interviews with key stakeholders and the use of questionnaires with full and part-time farmers. In addition, the Participatory Action Research method will be used to ensure that farmers

are centrally involved in the creation of a training programme that can support the effective eradication of invasive plant species. This pilot training programme will be evaluated, using a pre/post and follow up questionnaire, to ensure that learning is gained to support the wider implementation of this project. By carrying out research into the level of awareness about invasive plant species in the farming community and exploring the wider context this is framed within, in conjunction with the development of an effective training programme regarding invasive plant species, this work can have a substantial impact on how this issue is managed within Ireland.


Areas of Interest:

  • Invasive plant species, biodiversity, habitat conservation, farm environmental, health and safety management


  • Bachelor of Science in Environmental, Health and Safety Management, AIT
  • MSc in Environmental, Health and Safety Management, AIT
    • Masters research thesis in the area of biodiversity and invasive plant species in riparian areas

Working in collaboration with community groups, farmers and local authorities, I have managed many projects in relation to habitat conservation and biodiversity. I liaise with the local authority in the implementation of biodiversity projects in local schools providing valuable resources and teaching aids to both pre-school and national school staff.


I have delivered awareness sessions to farmers in relation to the importance of health and safety on the farm and promote and raise awareness in relation to emerging environmental issues such as invasive plant species.


Galway Rural Development