Task Force Review of National Biodiversity Data Centre


Request for access to information held by The Heritage Council relating to “Agendas/minutes of meetings, and copies of reports produced by or for the Task Force Review of NDBC in 2021-22

Note: April 9th, 2021 meeting

Presentation from the Managing Director of Compass Informatics – Gearoid O’Riain

The presentation outlined detail in the following areas:

  • Potential Vision for the National Biodiversity Data Centre
  • What has been done so far
  • Information on the skilled teams
  • Opportunities and Challenges
  • Detail on multiple overlapping projects
  • Components
  • Association and Branding
  • Agri Biodiversity Evidence team
  • Biodiversity Evidence team – for EPA
  • Marine Biodiversity Evidence Team
  • Biodiversity Education & Awareness Team

V. Teehan gave an update on the concept document she produced based on advice from Council’s legal advisers following the agreement at the last meeting that a company by guarantee would be the best way forward.

The process would involve seeking Government approval for the establishment of a Company Limited by Guarantee for the purposes of collecting and recording of biodiversity data

If Government approval is given to the proposed approach, then the Taskforce could proceed to determine the recommended composition of the first Board of the new Company as well as the proposed Constitution, Memorandum and Articles of Association and details of governance and proposed staffing arrangements, etc. The detailed recommendations would also require Government approval.

Concept document

C. Ryan would seek advice within the Department and revert back to the Chairperson and V. Teehan with a briefing note prior to the next meeting

Comparative Terms of Reference document from Atlas of Living Australia

2 June 2021 Meeting


Operating Agreement and the Articles of Association

Over the period 2017-2019, the Heritage Council examined the financial governance, contract management and overall administration of the programme. In 2019 The Heritage Council commissioned an independent review of the governance
structures of the National Biodiversity Data Centre. The review was conducted by Crowe Ireland.

That one of the recommendations from the review was the establishment of the taskforce to oversee the implementation of the recommendations. The taskforce will report back to the Board of the Heritage Council on a regular basis. The CEO informed the committee that it is her intention to establish quarterly meetings with the NBDC to track progress on the KPIs as outline in the Service Level Agreement (SLA).

Gearoid O’Riain. The presentation outlined detail in the following areas:
– Potential Vision for the National Biodiversity Data Centre
– What has been done so far
– Information on the skilled teams
– Opportunities and Challenges
– Detail on multiple overlapping projects
– Components

– Association and Branding
– Agri Biodiversity Evidence team
– Biodiversity Evidence team – for EPA

Note: the preparatory work circulated for this meeting

That D. Hobern and P. Greene briefed the committee on the application of lessons from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and other biodiversity initiatives at an international level to the future needs and direction for the NBDC.

Preparation of high level confidential interim report to go to the Heritage Council Board on June 24th outlining the recommended approach of the taskforce

Schedule a workplan for the detail issues in second half of this year

V. Teehan presented the team with the draft Interim Report she produced for discussion and approval today for the Heritage Council Board meeting on June 24th

Hugh Sullivan presented the draft transition interim plan under the following headings

  • Introduction
  • Due Diligence
  • Compass Informatics Exit Strategy
  • Business Continuity Planning
  • Next Steps  

Internal Review on AIE_2022_02

NPWS requirements for NBDC

NBDC and lessons from the international context

National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC) Contract

The objective of this programme is to maintain, develop and provide public access to the central repository of biological records in Ireland currently known as the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

The repository holds over 4.3 million records covering 16,000 species from 147 data sets. Its core function is to collate and validate data (gathered from a wide range of sources) on Ireland’s biodiversity to document our wildlife resource and to track change over time. The scope of its work includes species and habitat information relating to the terrestrial, freshwater and marine environment.

In addition to its core function as a repository, the programme provides coordination of data collection and recording, and assists in the mainstreaming of biodiversity data and information into many areas of life in Ireland including planning, conservation management and research. There is a citizen science biodiversity network of more than 8000 recorders who submit records for inclusion in the repository.

A state-of-the-art bioinformatics infrastructure and a biodiversity data and mapping portal have been developed.

In addition, the to the core repository functions, the programme coordinates the implementation of the All Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-20. This plan engages organisations across the Ireland of Ireland including government, NGOs, business, local authorities, and communities

Camera Trapping for Otters

Selected papers

Notes on trailcam setup and placement

Otter eye level is 25-30cm Keep camera  height as standard as possible, e.g. 50cm with a slight angle down but the same 50% sky 50% ground on the screen

Two camera trap sites cannot be closer than 500m or further than 5000m from the next site

Camera trap is set to photo mode only with 3 photos per trigger.

Camera trap time is set to local summer time, with daylight savings settings off.

The SD card and internal photo-stamp of the camera trap are the same number.

The camera trap is placed inside the grid cell, at an appropriate location, unbaited

The camera trap should optimally face north (+/- 15 degrees)

The camera trap test function should detect movement at a distance of 8m.

There should be no large obstructions or blind spots in front of the camera trap

Members of the National Biodiversity Forum

Name Organisation
Tasman Crowe (Chair) UCD
Simon Berrow Irish Whale & Dolphin Group
Séamus Boland Irish Rural Link
Ken Bradley Department of Agriculture, Environment and
Rural Affairs of Northern Ireland
Noeleen Smyth UCD
Padraic Fogarty Irish Wildlife Trust (Environmental Pillar nominee)
Paul Giller UCC Academic
Janice Fuller Coillte
Elaine McGoff An Taisce (Environmental Pillar nominee)
James Moran GMIT
Aebhinn Cawley Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental
Mark McCauley IBEC
Oonagh Duggan BirdWatch Ireland
Siobhán Ryan Heritage Officer, Sligo
Anne Murray Biodiversity Officer, DLR
John Butler FACE Ireland / NARGC
Dr Christoph Schwitzer Dublin Zoo

Members of the Biodiversity Working Group

Name Department/ Organisation

Katharine Duff Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Ted Massey Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Hannah Denniston Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Niall Ryan Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Colin O’Hehir Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications
Anne Murray Department of Education
Colin Byrne Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government
David Flynn Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government
Brian O’Malley Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
Denis McGowan Department of Rural and Community Development
Paul Greene An Garda Síochána
Tadhg O’Mahony Environmental Protection Agency
Cathal Gallagher Inland Fisheries Ireland
Brian Deegan Irish Water
Maurice Clarke Marine Institute
Liam Lysaght National Biodiversity Data Centre
Colin Kelleher Office of Public Works
Tony Brew Office of Public Works
Margaret Gormley Office of Public Works
Catherine Keena Teagasc
Lorcán Scott Heritage Council
Mark McCorry Bord Na Móna
David Joyce CCMA
Martin Wall Department of Foreign Affairs
Sylvie Clappe CSO
Tas Crowe UCD – Chair of Biodiversity Forum
Caoimhin O’Ciaruain Dept. of Transport
Deirdre Lynn NPWS
Andy Bleasdale NPWS
Claire Cooper NPWS
Dermot McGreal NPWS

Public Consultation on Ireland’s 4th National Biodiversity Action Plan


Need to ensure appropriate resourcing and skills across Government Departments and state bodies


-Need for clear, defined responsibility for stakeholders assigned roles and actions across the Plan
-Need for a legal basis to secure the implementation of the Plan
-Promote useful sharing of information and enable Government departments to effectively communicate with the public around progress with the Plan


-Ensuring that biodiversity-related data is accessible, consolidating disparate data into a centralised repository
-Need for standardisation and coherence across data collection efforts
-Need to support citizen science, recognising the invaluable role that voluntary recording and monitoring schemes play in recording data
-Need to identify and address the root causes of biodiversity loss in Ireland

Local Authorities and Biodiversity

-Ensuring that all local authorities have access to a biodiversity officer and the expertise necessary for biodiversity monitoring and enforcement

Rural Biodiversity and Farming

-Ensuring that biodiversity data collected by farmers is captured and utilised
-Ensuring that farmers are adequately compensated / remunerated for managing their land to support biodiversity
-Revising and enhancing the viability of farm forestry

Biodiversity and Planning

-The role of the planning process in safeguarding biodiversity
-Supporting best practice to ensure positive outcomes for biodiversity


-Need for further focus on habitats and species that lie outside of protected sites

Actions relating to monitoring and evaluation

-By 2023, a progress tracker for the NBAP is established

-By 2023, and in each year thereafter, relevant entities report on their progress against this Plan

Each Objective contains a series of Outcomes that describe the changes that will occur if Actions are achieved:
• Each action has an associated target, which is a time-bound description of what the action aims to achieve.
• The actions are interventions that will contribute to the achievement of the outcomes.

• Each action has a designated owner(s).
• Each action has a measurable indicator(s) that will allow for the monitoring of progress.


The NBF will conduct an independent review of the Biodiversity Financial Needs Assessment (by 2024)

By 2026, OPW has implemented its Biodiversity Action Strategy in full (including Appointment of a Biodiversity Officer)

DHLGH will work with Local Authorities on establishing a Biodiversity Officer Programme with a dedicated Biodiversity Officer in each Local Authority and dedicated guidance on their role by 2026

All Local Authorities will have a Biodiversity Action Plan in place by end of 2026

By 2027, measures for biodiversity implemented under the Common Agricultural Policy are monitored for their impact and efficacy

By 2023, a mechanism for matching private sector resources with appropriate biodiversity projects is established (Business for Biodiversity platform)

DHLGH will publish detailed site specific conservation objectives for all SACs and SPAs

By 2025, DHLGH has reviewed its licensing and consent system to facilitate sustainable activities within Natura 2000 sites

DHLGH will publish and implement Species Action or Threat Response Plans with population targets for threatened and endangered species that are in Unfavourable status or have declining trends

DHLGH with relevant stakeholders will identify areas that will be pledged as protected areas following the criteria laid out under the EU Biodiversity Strategy (by end of 2023)

DAFM and Teagasc will develop and implement realistic and widely applicable results based agrienvironmental climate measures (AECM) as part of Ireland’s CAP SP that include significant habitat maintenance and restoration measures

In line with the EU Biodiversity Strategy, the use and risk of pesticides is reduced by 50% by 2030

Measures under the National Peatlands Strategy are implemented by 2025 and updated by 2026, and an updated Bord na Mona Biodiversity Action Plan is published by end of 2023

By 2024, Ireland’s National Forest Strategy and Forestry Programme has identified clear actions to enhance biodiversity

OPW will work with relevant authorities to ensure that Flood Risk Management planning and associated SEA, EIA and AA, minimises loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services through policies to promote more catchmentwide and non-structural flood risk management measures (by 2027)

OPW will ensure that all significant drainage (arterial drainage), including both initial drainage and maintenance drainage will be assessed for its implications for biodiversity, particularly for wetlands (by 2027)

The OPW, in coordination with other relevant stakeholders, will continue to enhance its knowledge and capacity with regards to Nature-based Solutions for Catchment Management (NBS-CM) and will assess the potential NBSCM as part of the development of the future flood relief schemes (by 2027)

OPW will review existing flood relief schemes, identifying opportunities for retrofit of biodiversity enhancement measures, and developing biodiversity good practice from the lessons learned into guidance for new schemes (by 2027)

Implementation of all actions of the Nitrates Action Plan by December 2025 – DAFM will ensure that Ireland’s CAP SP will provide circular and localised nutrient management and reduce loss of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and soil to the aquatic environment, taking account of nature-based solutions

Irish Water will implement its Water Services Strategic Plan (2015-2040), in particular its objective to protect and enhance the environment, together with its Biodiversity Action Plan

DHLGH and LAWPRO will ensure that high status water bodies are effectively protected and restored via the Blue Dot Catchments Programme (2022-2027) – High status catchment delineation and prioritisation for protection measures; Output from national a monitoring system; Centralised GIS database or activities database is established and operational

DHLGH will develop an Action Plan to urgently protect 3110 Oligotrophic Lake Habitat that was assessed as having a Bad Conservation Status as part of Article 17 Reporting 2019

DHLGH, Inland Fisheries Ireland, OPW and other relevant bodies will explore the restoration of 300 km or rivers to a free-flowing state in line with the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030

By 2026, Ireland is meeting all requirements for its transitional, coastal, and marine environment under the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), thereby achieving and maintaining High or Good Ecological Status and Good Environmental Status, respectively

DAFM, DHLGH and other relevant stakeholders will implement measures to ensure that there are no significant adverse effects from marine fisheries and aquaculture in and adjacent to EU Natura 2000 sites

DHLGH will establish an invasive alien species (IAS) unit to expedite implementation of the legislative and policy framework, including specific resources for enforcement

DHLGH in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, will resource and implement on-the-ground actions to remove stands of invasive species from native woodlands and peatlands within Protected Areas and National Parks

By 2023, there is significant progress to restore and rewet raised bog protected areas, as set out in the National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017-2022 and Ireland’s 2021 Climate Action Plan

By 2027, OPW has made all relevant biodiversity datasets publicly available

By 2024 biodiversity monitoring programmes are sufficiently robust to detect changes over time and fulfil our national, regional and global reporting obligations

By 2023 the National Land Cover Map will be published

Habitat biodiversity assessments are conducted on all National Farm Survey (NFS) farms by 2030

By 2027, alignment is achieved between relevant EU LIFE projects that work separately