The potential availability of land for afforestation in the Republic of Ireland

Irish Forestry 2015, Vol. 72

An analysis of land resources to assess “the potential availability of land for afforestation in the Republic of Ireland” was performed in 2013 with the aim of providing an understanding of the potential land resources that could potentially be available for forestry to achieve government afforestation targets (see attached paper Farrelly and Gallagher 2016)

Peer reviewed paper in pdf format, land availability forestry 2013 supporting document and map output in GIS gridded data format (ESRI grid).

Note: some of the input data used in this analysis is already in the public domain and available on line (through Teagasc and NPWS map portals) and some of the data is not, as it has been made available from OSI under national mapping agreement and other data agreements with Forest Service

A note on the potential availability of land for afforestation in the Republic of Ireland

An analysis of land resources to assess “the potential availability of land for afforestation in the Republic of Ireland” was performed in 2013 with the aim of providing an understanding of the potential land resources that could potentially be available for forestry to achieve government afforestation targets (see attached paper Farrelly and Gallagher 2016).

The analysis was based on developed spatial analysis techniques involving a range of datasets representative of landuse in Ireland, which were available from a range of National mapping agencies under licence agreement (e.g. Ordnance Survey Ireland, Navtech, etc.) in Table 1, Farrelly and Gallagher (2016). Some of the inputs utilised in the analysis are in the public domain and available on line (soils, sub-soils, landcover, etc.) at http://gis.teagasc.ie/soils/map.php and some of them, are subject to specific request for national responsible agencies (e.g. Forest Service, DAFM).

The data utilised for the analysis represented the best source of data available for the study at the time of preparation in 2012. Some data are subject to limitations of scale, with scales varying from 1:50,000 to 1: 500,000, the latter for published soil maps. Some of the input datasets used are time and date specific, being representative of agricultural land use and soil survey from the mid to late 1900’s https://www.teagasc.ie/environment/soil/soil-maps/ The landcover and habitat maps utilised are based on landsat data taken in 1995,  these are perhaps obsolete and are being superseded by new maps (e.g. OSI prime II, see https://webapps.geohive.ie/mapviewer/index.html which may be subject to continuous updating and revision.

Additional data some of which was not used in the original study is available which may have potential to modify some of the results of the 2013 study. Additional forests have been planted, new environmental designations, county development plans, etc. would all have implications to land availability for forestry.

The spatial analysis performed in this study was intended to be utilised for tabular reporting and not for the production of map based data and the resulting raster dataset G&R_LA2013 is presented at 1 x 1km in ESRITM grid format and categories are described below.

The use of such maps at finer scales can cause misunderstanding and misrepresent the level of accuracy and detail of mapping of input datasets and are not suitable for use at a field or site level.

The interpretations derived from this map does imply suitability for afforestation, and does not eliminate the need for due process in the application for afforestation which are subject to DAFM guidelines and which are administered on a case by case basis subject to onsite sampling, testing, and detailed study of habitats, guidelines commensurate with Forest Service procedures for afforestation grant aid. Users are responsible for the appropriate application of this map.

Attribute fields

Raster ValueDESCRIPTION
1Utilised land
2Unsuitable land
3Protected land
4Land most likely to have potential for forestry
41*Land suitable for productive agricultureab
42*Land marginal for economic agricultural productionab
412*As 41, but is fishery sensitiveb
413*As 42, but is fishery sensitiveb

b Productive and marginal are defined by Gardiner and Radford – soil associations and their land use potential, An Foras Taluntais, Dublin.

bc Application of appropriate screening of forestry applications in fishery sensitive areas may be subject locally applicable

* Application for afforestation licenses is administered on a case by case basis subject to onsite sampling, testing, and detailed study of habitats and other appropriate assessments and guidelines commensurate with Forest Service procedures for afforestation grant aid.

Extracts

Download paper in full

Mapping data

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1oQhFgCgS47BIFOvcv5h6j7lhrC-0W2ig/view?usp=sharing

RIGHT TO KNOW CLG & COMMISSIONER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION & RAHEENLEAGH POWER

The issue for resolution in this appeal is a net one: whether Raheenleagh Power DAC (“RPD”) is a public authority within the meaning of the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007-2008 (“the AIE Regulations”)

Right to Know CLG (“RTK”) is a company limited by guarantee whose objects are to improve, promote and advocate for increased rights of public access to information.  It was incorporated on 24 July 2015.  On 22 February 2017 RTK sought access to environmental information held by Coillte Teoranta (“Coillte”) in relation to a wind farm located at Raheenleagh Forest in County Wicklow.  Coillte granted part of the request and refused access to some of the environmental information sought on the basis that it was not held for or on behalf of Coillte.  The information was held by RPD

AIE Request: Woodland and hedgerow destruction, Tonashammer, Westmeath

AIE.22.284

Irish Transverse Mercartor Projection are 649994, 776015

Illegal felling enforcement case, land seeded for dairy farming

“There is enough evidence observed to warrant that the file is forwarded to the EIA section for their assessment. The location is tonashammer, it is north of castlepollard and west of dromone. Over 500 metres of hedgerow has been removed (not trimmed) and nothing is remaining only bare soil. The total area of the works is ca 6.5 ha and there are wetlands present. Part of the area overlaps or is adjacent to a pNHA”

Inspectors Report

Cease and Desist Letter

Report from site visit conducted following a cross report of a possible breach of Environmental Impact Regulations (Agriculture) in relation to work being carried out on lands at Tonashammer, Co. Westmeath

Replanting Order

LIFE IP project (Waters of LIFE)

LIFE Integrated projects 2018
Stage 2 – FULL PROPOSAL
Technical application forms
Part B – technical summary and overall context of the project

EPA has determined that the risk profile of high-status water bodies is different to the general risk profile across water bodies nationally.

In the case of those high-status water bodies which EPA has determined to be At Risk of not meeting their objective under the Water Framework Directive, forestry activity was a significant pressure in 40% of cases, hydromorphological alteration in 34%, agriculture in 28% and peat extraction or disturbance in 13% of cases

Objectives of project

The Waters of LIFE IP will act as a catchment-scale demonstration project to test and validate the effectiveness of implementing locally-tailored ‘best practice’ measures across a range of landscape and land-use management activities typically associated with the catchments of high-status waters.

The project will trial and validate the implementation of measures at the catchment scale across a number of pilot catchments with the view to building national understanding and capacity, optimising approaches for the targeting of measures in critical areas of the catchment, assessing the effectiveness of the approach and using the learnings from the project to inform and support ongoing work across all high-status catchments in the Irish River Basin District.

It will demonstrate the effective implementation of an integrated catchment-based approach for the application of measures to protect and/or restore all waters for which a high-status objective has been identified in Ireland’s River Basin Management Plan.

Summary actions

A.1: Prepare detailed characterisation of HS Catchments (ecology, natural capital value, main pressures, problems)

Deliverables:

An initial analysis of classification metrics that have driven High Status Site changes in recent years. This will include sites that have lost HS, those that have improved to HS and sites where status has fluctuated between HS and lower classifications.

An analysis of landscape features, land use intensity, and hydrology that typifies known HS sites.

Identification of significant changes in landscape / land use over the period of analysis.

Comparison of HS changes and landscape feature changes to identify potential drivers of HS. This will include identification of unmonitored potentially HS sites.

Milestones:
– Procurement of external technical support. This should occur within 3 months of completion of task F.1.
– High Status Sites Characterisation Report delivered by 1/12/2020
– Landscapes of HS Sites Report and Unmonitored Sites Potentially at HS Report delivered by 1/12/2020
– Metrics for use in Determining Status Change Report delivered by 1/12/2020.

A.2: Prepare Framework of HS Measures (Best Practice Measures) and guidance

Deliverables:

The task will deliver a framework of available measures for protection and restoration of high status catchments along with guidance on design and implementation; environmental parameters targeted and expected trajectories post implementation; estimated costs; synergies with other programmes of measures; cumulative or secondary effects. Through a SWOT analysis of shortlisted measures the Waters of Life project will include an assessment of constraints to implementation, likely acceptability of measure, and established effectiveness.


Milestones:
– Appointment of external technical support. This should occur within 3 months of completion of project management task F.1.
– Comprehensive list of measures for consideration in HS scenarios within 1 month of appointment of technical support.
– Draft Framework of HS Measures document for review within 4 months of appointment of technical support.
– Final Framework of HS Measures delivered by 1/03/2021.

A.3: Select Demonstration Catchments

Deliverables:

A Demonstration Catchment Selection Report listing those catchments selected with a range of pressures suitable for measures demonstration will be delivered. This report will set out the Multi-Criteria Analysis used in the selection process for all catchments considered including those eventually shortlisted.
Early engagement with local communities during the process will direct the project to catchments and areas within catchments that will maximise the opportunity for local participation and for successful project outcomes. Details of the engagement process and groups / community members engaged will be set out in the report above.

Milestones:
– A Demonstration catchment Selection Report detailing the selection process and key considerations in final selected catchments. Lessons learnt in effective methods to approach and engage with local communities will be documented. This will be delivered within 15 months of completing action A.1.
– Demonstration catchments selected by 1/03/2022

A.4: Develop HS catchments RBAP scheme

Deliverables:

A list of RBAPS ecosystem targets that reflect near natural catchment conditions required to support high status will be prepared by the Waters of Life project and agreed through consultation with farmers and stakeholders. Targets will be set for key relevant parameters essential to supporting high status waters and scheme eligibility criteria agreed.

A scoring system for assessment of results delivery that will allow for incremental achievement of targets will be prepared. The scoring system will reward progression between incremental phases and be agreed with stakeholders.

The Waters of Life project will prepare a payment scheme with payment levels that reflect the quality of results delivered as assessed by the agreed scoring system. Payments must also ensure that lower achievements are adequately rewarded to cover the cost of participation.

Milestones:
– An annotated list of Ecosystem targets with justification for their selection and specific objectives that are to be achieved. To be delivered within 6 months of action A.3 commencement.
– A scoring system for results assessment including details of criteria for evaluation and incremental steps. To be delivered within 9 months of action A.3 commencement.
– A payment scheme that reflects quality of outputs delivered and incentivises farmer performance. To be delivered within 15 months of action A.3 commencement.
– Guidance material to support scheme operation and training of participants and farmers.
– RBAPS including ecosystem targets, a scoring system for results assessment, and a payment scheme reflecting outputs delivered and incentivising farmer performance delivered by 1/03/2022
– Guidance for support scheme operation delivered by 1/03/2022.

A.5: Initial community engagement regarding concrete actions

Deliverables:
The action will aim to ensure that measures trials are situated in areas where local communities are informed and supportive of project objectives.
It will provide initial feedback to the Waters of Life project team on measures selection and design.

Milestones:
– Final selection of demonstration catchments within 15 months of completing A.1.
– Report on local community engagement and attitudes to project actions and objectives, and awareness of HS sites within 15 months of completing A.1.
– Initial community engagement re concrete actions completed by 1/03/2022.

A.6: Investigate land ownership (commonage areas)

Deliverables:
The Waters of Life project will prepare a map of commonage areas in the demonstration catchments selected and establish the relevant shareholders to permit engagement by the project.

Milestones:
– Identification of shareholders in relevant commonage areas in demonstration catchments. This action will commence in the latter part of the catchment selection task (A.3) and will be completed in the same timeframe.
– Commonage stakeholders in demonstration catchments identified by 1/03/2022

A.7: Secure Licenses / Permissions

Deliverables:
This action will deliver a register of pre-commencement requirements for all project actions with specified lead-in times to minimise risk to implementation schedules. The register will be maintained as a live document throughout the project and updated as details of specific tasks are identified and requirements are discharged.


Milestones:
– Register of Pre-commencement Requirements. This action will commence during preparation of the framework of measures task (A.2) and will be continue into the phase of implementation programmes roll-out task (C.7).
– Timely discharge of licence, consents, consultations and permits.
– Licence, consents, consultations and permits discharged by 1/06/2023.

A.8: Review and elaborate a detailed work programme

Deliverables:
The action will deliver an objective review of outputs to date and identify any lessons learnt and implications for ongoing Waters of Life project implementation. It will incorporate the findings of this review and the cumulative results to date into a detailed work programme for the next phase of the project.

Milestones:
– Project Interim Review Report to be delivered at the end of the preparatory actions phase and within 3 months of demonstration catchment selection.
– Detailed Project Work Programme – Phase 2. To be delivered within 3 months of demonstration catchment selection.
– Phase 1 and Work Programme-Phase 2 completed by 1/06/2022.

C.1: Catchment Walkover Investigations

Deliverables:
The action will deliver 6 catchment walkover investigations that will identify, document and map the areas where significant pressures are present. The walkover investigations will be the basis for detailed site assessments in targeted follow-up investigations (action C.2)


Milestones:
– Initial Catchment Walkover Investigations completed by 1/09/2022.

C.2: Follow-up Catchment Investigations

Deliverables:
The action will deliver a series of follow-up investigations that will provide scientific evidence of the nature and extent of pressures in the demonstration catchments and identify key locations for establishment and implementation of measures.


Milestones:
– Detailed catchment follow-up investigations completed by 1/09/2022.

C.3: Catchment strategic management plans

Deliverables:

The action will deliver 6 Strategic Catchment Management plans setting out explicit catchment details with relevant mapping including data relating to water status, land use, hydrology, population distribution, pressure types, sources and locations. The plans will provide scientific evidence of the nature and extent of pressures and identify key locations for establishment and implementation of measures. Plans will also set out a programme of monitoring to establish baseline conditions for key specified parameters


Milestones:
– Strategic Catchment Management Plans completed by 1/12/2022.

C.4: Deliver training for agricultural and forestry advisors

Deliverables:
The action will deliver a cohort of advisors with specific relevant knowledge to guide farming and forestry operations in HS catchments in a sustainable fashion. Farming advisors will be familiar with the bespoke RBAPS in terms of targets, performance indicators and payments structure. The action will deliver detailed training/capacity building relevant to the needs of national and regional stakeholders in specified sectors.

Milestones:
– Delivery of 5 number training days within six months of establishing locally based catchment teams in F.4.
– Agricultural and farm advisors trained by 1/12/2022.

C.5: Deliver training for farmers, forest operators and relevant practitioners

Deliverables:
The actions will deliver a practical training programme to introduce practitioners to the project actions and objectives. The programme will include 2 one-day training events in each of the 5 demonstration catchments (the training will not be required in the control HS catchment).


Milestones:
– Schedule of training events and site visits to representative catchment areas within 3 months of recruiting locally based catchment teams.
– 10 training events to be delivered in demonstration catchments within 9 months of recruiting locally based catchment teams.
– Farmers and practitioners trained by 1/03/2023.

C.6: Prepare implementation plans in agreement with local landowners

Deliverables:
The action will deliver integrated, practical and robust programmes for implementation of specified measures in priority catchment areas to sustain HS waters. These plans will be co-developed, agreed with, and informed by landowners and thus secure long term ownership of actions necessary for sustainable land use.


Milestones:
– Implementation plans agreed with landowners by 1/03/2023.

C.7: Implement programmes of measures across all demonstration catchments

Deliverables:
The action will deliver an effective measures programme within 5 demonstration catchments. A limited number of measures may be implemented in the control catchment depending on the findings of actions C.1, C.2 and C.3. Monitoring the implementation and performance of measures will afford learning in relation to measures effectiveness and acceptability and any unforeseen consequences. Such learning will inform adaptive responses and revisions to the programme that can be included in future programmes beyond the project demonstration catchments.


Milestones:
– Roll out of programme of measures by 01/10/22.

C.8: Landuser support for measures implementation in demonstration catchments

Deliverables:
The action will deliver an effective local measures programme for individual and cumulative pressures within 5 demonstration catchments. Implementation of measures by locally based community members will generate a sense of community custodianship of HS waters and reinforce the inherent value of such areas. It will address a resource gap in remote and sparsely populated catchments.

Milestones:
– Rural Development Scheme Measures Support Teams established by 01/10/2022

D. Monitoring of the impact of the project actions

D.1: Establish environmental monitoring programme

Deliverables:
The action will deliver a fit for purpose monitoring programme to detect the impacts of measures being implemented to protect or restore HS waters and within class drift in status. It will inform future policy in relation to such sites and the design of intervention schemes intended to support their protection.

Milestones:
– HS Catchments Monitoring Programme established by 1/09/2022.

D.2: Ongoing environmental/status monitoring and progress reporting

Deliverables:
This action will deliver an extensive dataset relating to implementation of measures in HS catchments and an assessment of their efficacy in supporting HS. It will also provide baseline data for the demonstration catchments.


Milestones:
– HS Catchments Monitoring Programme and Reporting implementation by 31/12/2026.
– Commencement of monitoring programme within 3 months of final selection of demonstration catchments
– Quarterly Monitoring Reports throughout the monitoring programme
– Annual Monitoring Reports throughout the monitoring programme.

D.3: Generate community custodianship of HS sites

Deliverables:
This action will deliver a comprehensive report on the process of community engagement and inculcation of custodianship of HS waters. A pathway for similar processes nationally will be generated.

Milestones:
– Assessment of the process of community engagement and inculcation of custodianship of HS waters delivered by 31/12/2026.
– Design of community engagement/facilitation/co-design method within 3 months of selection of demonstration catchments
– Carrying out of 1st cycle within 8 months of selection of demonstration catchments
– Report on 1st cycle within 9 months of selection of demonstration catchments
– Carrying out of 2nd cycle in 6 HS catchments in final year of the project
– Summary report on action research and recommendations based on lessons learned.

Project Management Group:

The DHPLG, as Co-ordinating Beneficiary, with the eight Associated Beneficiaries – Local Authorities (including LAWPro – Local Authority Waters Programme), the EPA, DAFM, the Forest Service (FS-DAFM), the NPWS, the OPW, Teagasc (the Agriculture and Food Development Authority) and Coillte (the State Forestry Body) together with representatives of participating stakeholders for example farmers/forest owners, will make up the Project Management Group.

Key staff members from all nine Beneficiaries have worked closely in the preparation of this project application and will meet to formally establish the Project Management Group immediately if this LIFE-IP funding application is successful. The Project Management Group will develop an overarching project plan and specify the requirements, tasks and deliverables for the procurement of the Project Team.

The Project Management Group will manage the Project Team on an ongoing basis, in terms of project planning, implementation, management and monitoring. To that end, the Project Management Group will utilise a variety of staff members with key skill sets from each Beneficiary, as and when required. It is expected that there will be at least one Project Management Group meeting per year, the frequency and subject of Project Management Group meetings will be task driven.

The Project Leader will report regularly to the Project Management Group, with other Project Team members reporting and attending meetings as and when required.

Project Team:

A dedicated, multi-disciplinary, four person core Waters of Life Project Team comprising a Project Team Leader, Project Scientific Advisor, Project GIS/data Advisor and Project Administrator will be appointed by the Co-ordinating Beneficiary for the duration of the project. Each of the Project core Team members will be full time (fixed-term temporary, whole-time contracts) with the exception of the Project Administrator, who will work half time. The core team will be based in a dedicated project office. Project Catchment Scientist/Ecologists will be engaged in the project on a regional basis at the phase 2 implementation stage within the selected catchments. The regional Catchment Scientist/Ecologists will be placed in offices in the selected demonstration catchments.

F.2: Development of the project data management systems

In the early stages of the project, the Project Team will establish an appropriate data management system for the project. The system will be used to manage all project data, including project reports, publications, financial information, measures implementation plans and other data. The data management system will allow information to be easily stored, retrieved, updated and analysed by the Project Team throughout the project.

The Waters of Life Project will generate a significant amount of practical information on the management of farms and forests and the implementation and monitoring of concrete High Status actions on project sites. This information will have a broad spatial, temporal and thematic spread and will be captured in Geographic Information System (GIS) and other relevant formats.

All data generated but the project, including supporting assessments of high status sites trends and pressures will be input to the project database.

This system will be compatible with the Co-ordinating Beneficiaries existing data management and GIS systems. These databases will be continually updated and added to by the Project Team throughout the duration of the project.

This activity will be conducted by the core project team and appropriate scientific support, located within the regional offices.


This action will be continual from the start of the project on until the end of the project.

The Waters of Life will generate significant quantities of information, reports and data in a number of formats. A readily accessible integrated data management system is necessary to securely store these data and to maximise their potential use. The system will allow data to be easily stored, retrieved, updated and analysed by the Project Team throughout the project.


The Geographic Information System will be the key, central hub to ensure information generated by the preparatory, the concrete implementation and the monitoring actions (A, C and D Actions) are stored and used effectively. GIS are commonly used in catchment management, where mapping of the location and extent of features is required, as well as the integration of many different data sets. The GIS will be used to identify critical source areas for sediment and nutrient losses that are key drivers of the impacts on high status sites and also their associated water-dependant protected species and habitats.


The GIS will also allow the rapid production of maps for project sites. Maps are a key, efficient tool in measures implementation planning. The GIS will also be very important in increasing public awareness and understanding of High Status and the project, in the dissemination of project results (E Actions), and in reporting (F Actions).

F.3: Project and Financial Management and Reporting (including Annual reports, End of Project Report and Recommendations, and independent audit)

Deliverables:


Early establishment of a detailed monitoring programme to measure project progress;
An end of project report;
Non- technical summary project report;
An independent financial audit of the Waters of Life project – Auditor’s report

Milestones:
– End of Project Reporting completed including Final Audit Report by 31/12/2026.

Download full project details here: