Most of the submissions to the NPWS Review are not in the public domain. EPA submission is, and worth noting:
NPWS should lead a national research strategy for ecosystems and biodiversity and secure multi-annual funding to deliver on strategic (including partnership co-funding) needs.
The current periodically ‘procured’ private enterprise model (Compass Infomatics) for (NBDC) a core national asset is too precarious to assure the essential continuity. We strongly recommend the full integration of the National Biodiversity Data Centre into the scientific enterprise of the NPWS.
EPA staff in the licensing and enforcement areas find that access to actionable information from NPWS is weak (e.g. habitat maps for Natura sites, critical loads and critical levels specified for protected sites), and when submissions are received from NPWS they can often be very generic and thus lacking any site, or action, specificity necessary for the regulatory (assessment and conditioning) processes.
There are also challenges in getting NPWS input on regulatory matters not associated with designated protection sites e.g. Environmental Liability Directive incidents which impact on features outside designated sites.
In order to support environmental decision making, the EPA would ask that the NPWS makes available in web/GIS format maps and searchable resources and the key emissions assessment support information on site-specific critical loads and critical levels for protected areas.
Given the dependency of many national SACs and SPAs on water quality and quantity, it would be important for NPWS to become an active member of the National Water Framework Directive Governance structures
The NPWS chair the national landcover mapping steering committee, which is an important function to provide independent oversight to the OSI national landcover mapping project. Active management of this project including regular meetings of the steering committee and progress reports from the OSI are key to successful delivery for all stakeholders.
NPWS hold important data relevant to the Water Framework Directive register of protected areas and Article 17 habitats directive reports. It can be difficult to get access to NPWS data.
Completion and availability of site-specific data on Special Areas of Conservation and more granular habitat maps would be of enormous help not only to landcover mapping but also to catchment management processes.
Dedicated NPWS resources to facilitate data sharing and to deliver site-specific data for protected habitats would greatly assist the landcover mapping activity (as well as EPA regulatory and Water Framework Directive activities), which in turn would facilitate better assessment of local and regional nature protection issues.