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The term aerial inspection refers to the inspection of trees for roosting bats. This inspection is normally done when potential roosting features have been identified on the preliminary bat roost assessment from the ground. During the aerial inspection, the surveyor (who will have a licence from NPWS) will climb the tree and use an endoscope (a device with a screen connected to a long tube with a camera at the end) to check the inside of the tree trunk for roosting bats.
The obligation to undertake appropriate assessment derives from Article 6(3) and 6(4) of the Habitats Directive, and both involve a number of steps and tests that need to be applied in sequential order. Article 6(3) is concerned with the strict protection of sites, while Article 6(4) is the procedure for allowing derogation from this strict protection in certain restricted circumstances. Each step in the assessment process precedes and provides a basis for other steps. The results at each step must be documented and recorded carefully so there is full traceability and transparency of the decisions made. They also determine the decisions that ultimately may be made in relation to approval or refusal of a plan or project. AA is not a prohibition on new development or activities but involves a case-by-case examination of the implications for the Natura 2000 site and its conservation objectives. In general terms, implicit in Article 6(3) is an obligation to put concern for potential effects on Natura 2000 sites at the forefront of every decision made in relation to plans and projects at all stages, including decisions to provide funding or other support.
AIAs assess the potential impact of proposed developments on trees, to inform planning applications. Ecologists will make recommendations regarding which trees should be removed or retained, identify areas of conflict, and make recommendations for potential solutions.
AEECoW is the professional membership body for environmental and ecological clerks of work, developed with the aim of raising and maintaining the professional standards amongst those providing ECoW services.
BS3998 is the British standard which all arboriculturalists work to. It gives general recommendations for tree work, including management options for established trees and overgrown hedges.
BS5837 is the British standard which gives recommendations and guidance on the relationship between trees and design, demolition and construction processes. It is a nationally recognised standard used by Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to assess planning applications.
Badger Watch is a non-profit conservation group dedicated to safeguarding badgers in Ireland. The group is actively involved in conservation of badgers and campaigning on badger welfare issues. The group also promotes badger watching.
The Oxford English dictionary defines baselines as “a minimum or starting point used for comparisons”. In ecology, the term is often used to signify the description of the habitats and/or species found in an area prior to works.
Bat Conservation Ireland was founded in 2004 and is composed of a diverse mix of conservationists, researchers and others with who are committed to wildlife conservation in Ireland. We particularly seek to address the potential conflicts that sometimes arise between humans and bats in dwelling houses.
A BAP is an internationally recognised programme which originally derives from the Convention on Biological Diversity. The action plan programme allows governments and organisations to set out priority species and habitats for conservation action on areas under their remit and thus establish goals and targets for their protection.
According to Guide to the Convention on Biodiversity, “the principal elements of a BAP typically include: (a) preparing inventories of biological information for selected species or habitats; (b) assessing the conservation status of species within specified ecosystems; (c) creation of targets for conservation and restoration; and (d) establishing budgets, timelines and institutional partnerships for implementing the BAP”.
BirdWatch Ireland is the Republic of Ireland partner of BirdLife International, a partnership of over 100 bird conservation organisations across the globe. As a global and European partnership, BirdLife International influences decision-making processes through lobbying and production of robust information and policy material. We also work in partnership with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in Northern Ireland to take an all-Ireland approach to conserving priority species.
BREEAM is a sustainability assessment method, which measures sustainable value in a series of categories, ranging from energy to ecology. Each of these categories addresses the most influential factors including low impact design and carbon emissions reduction, design durability and resilience, adaption to climate change, and ecological value and biodiversity protection. Within every category, developments score points – called credits – for achieving targets, and their final total determines their rating.
CIEEM is a professional membership body that represents and supports ecologists and environmental managers. Among other things the organisation establishes and upholds standards of professional competence and conduct of those who practice ecological and environmental management as a profession, as well as promoting the sharing of best practices in the sector. As such, they require members to adhere to standards of knowledge and professionalism and undertake continuing professional development.
The CSH is an assessment which measures the sustainability of new homes on a credit based system.
The Oxford English dictionary defines compensation as “something that counterbalances or makes up for an undesirable or unwelcome state of affairs”. In terms of ecology, the word is normally used to mean a trade-off where the losses to wildlife are offset by the creation of wildlife opportunities of at least equal value, for example, creating a new pond should you need to destroy one for a development.
The EU Habitats Directive gives protection to a range of species such as bats, otters, wales, dolphins and the Kerry slug. The habitats within which these species occur (breed, rest and forage) are also protected. EU Birds Directive Under this directive all EU member states, which include Ireland, are required to protect all wild birds and their habitats.
ECoW are consultants who work with companies on site, helping them to follow wildlife regulations and providing advice on compliance with the environmental planning conditions. This can include monitoring protected species and habitats, possible river and land pollution or auditing site activities, always with the goal of working collaboratively to find pragmatic solutions to any issues faced.
Like an EIA, an EcIA is a tool used to identify the impact of a project prior to the decision-making, the difference being that an EcIA focuses on the impact on wildlife. The EcIA can often be part of the EIA process.
Ecology is a branch of biology (the study of life) which is concerned with the study of organisms (animals, plants, fungi and other living things) and how they interact with one another and their environment. This includes the investigation of the distribution and abundance of organisms and understanding how they affect one another, their environment and, most often in ecological consultancy, how they are affected by human activity.
The Oxford English dictionary defines enhancement as “an increase or improvement in quality, value, or extent.” In terms of ecology, this normally means an increase in the ecological value of a site or improvement in the quality of a habitat.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the process of examining the anticipated environmental effects of a proposed project - from consideration of environmental aspects at design stage, through consultation and preparation of an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR).
The projects which require EIA are listed in Annex I and Annex II of the EIA Directive as amended.
Projects listed in Annex I of the EIA Directive have mandatory EIA requirements. Each Member State decides on a case-by-case basis whether Annex II projects require an EIA. Thresholds have been set for Annex II projects in Irish legislation. But even projects which do not meet the threshold may require an EIA if the project is likely to have significant effects on the environment.
The Annex I and Annex II projects have been transposed into Section 5 (Parts 1 and 2) of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended.
Environmental Impact Assessment Report for what was formerly referred to in Irish legislation as an Environmental Impact Statement. EIA stands for the process of Environmental Impact Assessment. The Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) is the principal document that the EIA process is based on.
An EIAR is defined in the EIA regulations as: “A statement of the effects, if any, which proposed development, if carried out, would have on the environment.” The EIAR is prepared by the developer and is submitted to a Competent Authority (CA) as part of a consent process. The CA uses the information provided to assess the environmental effects of the project and, in the context of other considerations, to help determine if consent should be granted. The information in the EIAR is also used by other parties to evaluate the acceptability of the project and its effects and to inform their submissions to the CA.
The EU habitats and birds directives were transposed into Irish National Law. The European Communities (Natural Habitats) Regulations, SI 94/1997 was amended by SI 233/1998 & SI 378/2005 and most recently revised to become European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011, SI 477/2011.
GIS are mapping tools which allow us to capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage and present spatial or geographic data. There are a number of types of GIS software which allow us to present spatial or geographic data in maps, thus aiding our analysis and understanding of species distribution, patterns, and trends.
GCN (Triturus cristatus) are not found in Ireland and the closest known range is the UK (excl. Northern Ireland). It is protected in the UK as their numbers have significantly declined during the 20th century, mainly due to agricultural intensification.
Habitat is usually defined as the natural environment of an organism. Simply put, it is the home of any living thing. For example, when referring to a bat’s habitat, this include the roosts (in trees and buildings) where they sleep and care for the young, the places where they eat (such as watercourses, forests, and street lights) and the hedgerows and tree lines where they commute.
ISO 18001, also known as OHSMS, is an international standard for health and safety and sets out good practices in occupational health and safety. Having such an accreditation certifies that the company meets the standard for management systems, planning and risk assessment, staff training and awareness, communication of safety management systems, response to emergency situations, monitoring and continual improvement.
ISO 19001 is an international standard for quality of business management. Having the ISO19001 certification means that a company meets good quality management principles required to achieve it, including strong customer focus, good lines of communication throughout the company, quality assurance procedures and continual improvement.
The Oxford English dictionary defines inspection as “careful examination or scrutiny”. In ecology, it usually refers to the examination of trees and habitats.
A licence is a legal document required in order to undertake actions which will otherwise be illegal. A licence relating to actions which affect wildlife is usually obtained from National Parks and Wildlife Service. A licence gives permission to disturb and capture a particular protected species (such as bats, badger) for the purpose of survey or research and is given out on a site by site basis to a suitably qualified person.
The Convention on Biological Diversity, signed by Ireland in 1992, is an agreement between 193 countries for the conservation of global biodiversity. As a contractual party under the Convention, Ireland was obliged to prepare a National Biodiversity Plan (achieved in 2002) and to submit National Reports to the Convention on Biological Diversity (four National Reports were submitted between 1998 and 2010). An action of the National Biodiversity Plan was for each Local Authority to prepare a Local Biodiversity Action Plan.
The Oxford English dictionary defines a management plan as “a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something”. In ecology, this usually refers to plans for creating and/or taking care of one or more habitats. For example, the management plan for a wildflower meadow will include the species mix to be planted as well as a recommendation on the upkeep of the flower meadow in the future.
Mitigation is simply the act of reducing a negative impact, normally to a natural resource in ecology. This is often done by creating new habitats or improving the current one.
This statement prepared following Appropriate Assessment of Natura 2000 sites as required under the Habitats Directive which presents information on the assessment and the process of collating data on a project and its potential significant impacts on Natura 2000 site(s).
The basic designation for wildlife is the Natural Heritage Area (NHA). This is an area considered important for the habitats present or which holds species of plants and animals whose habitat needs protection.
A Nature Reserve is an area of importance to wildlife, which is protected under Ministerial order. Most are owned by the State. However, some are owned by organisations or private landowners, and persons interested in acquiring statutory protection for their lands can seek advice on this matter from the Department
Offsetting involves the use of conservation activities to give biodiversity benefits to compensate for losses. This may involve, for example, the creation of new sites for nature if a development will cause unavoidable damage. Offsetting can aid developers in fulfilling their obligations under the planning system’s mitigation hierarchy.
A PRF is simply any feature on a tree or building (usually cracks, crevices and holes) which a bat may use as a roost or to access a roost (for example, a gap which will give a bat access into the loft where it can roost).
The Oxford English dictionary defines preliminary as “preceding or done in preparation for something fuller or more important”. In ecology, this is normally used in terms of preliminary surveys such as a preliminary ecological appraisal or a preliminary bat roost assessment. This type of survey is useful as it helps an ecologist get a sense of the area and determine whether further surveys are required, based on what type of species the surveyed area is likely to support.
Previously referred to as a bat risk assessment, the PBRA classifies a structure or tree as having a negligible, low, moderate or high suitability for supporting roosting bats, based on factors such as the presence of potential access routes suitable for use by bats and any field signs recorded. The classification will decide whether bat activity surveys are required.
The PEA is an initial assessment of a site which establishes the overall baseline conditions and evaluates the need for further surveys. The PEA survey records the types and extents of habitats present, as well as signs that protected species may be present.
A protected species is an organism (usually animals and plants) protected from harm by law and thus requiring special care. The protection for such species often goes beyond just preventing the killing of the species and can include damage or loss of habitat, disturbance, removal and transport, among other things. For more information look at our legislation summary.
According to the Bat Conservation Trust, a roost is the place where a bat lives. “Bats need different roosting conditions at different times of the year and they will often move around to find a roost that meets their needs. Some bats prefer hollow trees, some like caves and some use both at different times. Many bats shelter in buildings, behind hanging tiles and boarding or in roof spaces. For several weeks in summer, female bats gather in a maternity roost to have their babies. In winter, bats use hibernation roosts. Bats have been discovered roosting in all sorts of places but there are three broad roost types that are most common: in trees, built structures and underground sites. Bats may also roost in bat boxes.”
These are prime wildlife conservation areas in the country, considered to be important on a European as well as Irish level. Most Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are in the countryside, although a few sites reach into town or city landscapes, such as Dublin Bay and Cork Harbour. The areas chosen as SAC in Ireland cover an area of approximately 13,500 sq. km. Roughly 53% is land, the remainder being marine or large lakes. Across the EU, over 12,600 sites have been identified and proposed, covering 420,000 sq. km of land and sea, an area the size of Germany.
In Ireland a programme to identify and designate SPA sites has been in place since 1985 and a review of the Irish network of SPA sites had identified a number of sites that required re-notification.
The necessary SPA survey work has been undertaken and all of Ireland’s list of 154 SPAs have been notified to landowners and published (classified) in a fashion that is consistent with the requirements of the Birds Directive.
In January 2014, 140 of Ireland’s 154 SPA sites have been protected by Statutory Instrument and it is envisaged that all of Ireland’s list of SPA sites will be protected by Statutory Instrument in the coming months. The Statutory Instrument is the final step in the designation process, however all SPAs are considered protected from their date of classification.
Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a process for evaluating, at the earliest possible stage,
the likely environmental effects of implementing a Plan or other strategic action in order to ensure
environmental considerations are appropriately addressed in the decision-making process, both during their preparation and prior to adoption of a Plan.
There are many different types of survey but, in ecology, a survey generally refers to the act of examining and recording an area or a building features, in order to report conditions and usually construct a plan.
Plant species protected under Section 21 of the Wildlife Act 1976 are outlined and listed completely in the Flora (Protection) Order 2015. This makes it an offence to cut, uproot, damage or sell any of the species listed in the Order and also is an offence to alter or damage the habitats these plants are found in and is not confined to designated sites. Some plants may be removed but a licence from National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) will be require before any such work can take place.
The Herpetological Society of Ireland is a non-profit organisation that aims to raise awareness and understanding of herpetofauna i.e. reptiles and amphibians. The organisation promotes the conservation of both native and exotic species in Ireland through education and research.
The NBAP is the government’s response to the Convention on Biological Diversity, published in 2017 and to incorporate plans up to 2021. It is the third such plan for Ireland and captures the objectives, targets and actions for biodiversity that will be undertaken by a wide range of government, civil society and private sectors to achieve Ireland’s Vision for Biodiversity. This NBAP provides a framework to track and assess progress towards Ireland’s Vision for Biodiversity over a five-year timeframe from 2017 to 2021.
The Tree Council is an umbrella body for organisations involved in tree planting, management and conservation. The main role of the Tree Council is to promote the planting, care and enjoyment of trees. The Tree Council aims to educate the public through the organisation of events and tree related activities, the publication of literature, the management of national tree records and through the provision of an information service to the public.
A Tree Constraints Plan (TCP) is a site plan which includes the existing buildings, the proposed development and any trees present on site. TCPs accompany AIAs in supporting planning applications.
A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an order made by a Local Planning Authority to protect trees and woodlands, in the interests of amenity (i.e. if their removal will have a significant negative impact on the local environment and its enjoyment by the public). TPOs prohibit the cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting and willful damage or destruction of trees, without the LPA’s written consent.
Tree surveys are carried out by arboriculturalists, to provide landowners with information on the trees on their land, including the species present, their ages, measurements and overall health. This information can then be used to make recommendations and inform decision-making regarding management and development. Tree surveys should be carried out in accordance with BS5837.
A walk over survey is an initial assessment of a site in order to evaluate the overall conditions and need for further surveys, based on which species the habitat is likely to support.
The white-clawed crayfish Austropotamobius palipes (WCC) is Ireland’s only native freshwater crayfish. The species is legally protected as their numbers have significantly decline due to the introduction of signal crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus from America. The signal crayfish not only outcompete the WCC but also act as a vector for a fungal disease, crayfish plague, which is killing our native species.
This Act refers to protection of species (flora and fauna), designation of protected sites, hunting and control of wildlife trading. This Act is this overarching piece of legislation in Ireland. Species in Ireland protected under the Wildlife Act 1976 and Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 include species of mammals, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles and all birds.
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Following the introduction of our ‘Meet the Team‘ page comes our mini blog series. Hear personally from our team members about their roles at EcoNorth and more. This week, meet Mark Middleton, Senior Ecologist. Tell us a bit about yourself I’m originally from Northumberland and, after a time away in education and various jobs, I …