AIE Request: NPWS forestry and felling licencing referrals received from the Forest Service during 2022 (for sample counties, Wicklow and Leitrim)

Includes “general observations from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in relation to forestry application referrals”

AIE-063-2022

Request for

  • a copy of all site reports and related information produced by conservation and
    ecological staff of the NPWS as a result of forestry and felling licencing referrals
    received from the Forest Service during 2022 for counties Wicklow and Leitrim that
    are logged on the DATS
  • a copy of all submissions made to the Forest Service in response to forestry and
    felling licencing referrals received during the same period for counties Wicklow and
    Leitrim. This can exclude no comment responses but include one example of a
    standard email response issued to the Forest Service for no comments.

Proposal to clearfell Sitka Spruce plantation at Conaghil & Kilcoosy townlands, Co. Leitrim

NPWS Recommendation: This proposed development should be screened for appropriate
assessment based on the considerations outlined above as per Regulation 42(1) of the 2011
Birds and Natural Habitats Regulations

Felling Licence Application TFL00769822 at Drumrane, Co. Leitrim

NPWS Recommendation: This proposed development should be screened for appropriate assessment based on the considerations outlined above as per Regulation 42(1) of the 2011 Birds and Natural Habitats Regulations.

Application for felling licence reference number TFL00801122 at Corrachuill Townland, Co. Leitrim.

The application provides insufficient information to be assessed properly with regard to its potential impacts on protected species (See Section 1):
o The application does not provide the information required and outlined in the Forest Harvesting and Environment Guidelines (2000).
o The application does not provide the information required and outlined in the Felling and Reforestation Policy (2017).
o The application does not provide information on the presence/absence of species protected under the Wildlife Act (1976, as amended) within the application site.
o The application site region is known to host Red squirrel, Common Buzzard and other passerine species.
o There are concerns for the stream and water course which flow by the boundary to the northern side of the application lands. This boundary forms a wooded historic Townland border.
o There is no reference or recognition to the historic infield boundaries within the plot 432
o There are concerns for the lakeshore and riparian Woodland/scrubland which occur around a significant portion of the plot 432. These have not been identified within the felling application documents submitted.
o Concerns for possible replanting of conifers along the northern stream side border of the lands.

Application for TFL felling licence reference number TFL 00806322 Kilnamaddyroe Townland, Co. Leitrim

The application provides insufficient information to be assessed properly with regard to its potential impacts on protected species (See Section 1).
o The application does not provide the information required and outlined in the Forest Harvesting and Environment Guidelines (2000).
o The application does not provide the information required and outlined in the Felling and Reforestation Policy (2017).
o The application does not provide information on the presence/absence of species protected under the Wildlife Act (1976, as amended) within the application site.
o The application area is now known to host Common Buzzard, Mistle Thrust and other passerine species

Application for TFL felling licence reference number TFL 00806522 Murhaun Townland, Co. Leitrim

Application for felling licence reference number TFL00807822 at Cornaroy Townland, Co. Leitrim.

Application for licence reference number TFL 00819822 Driny Townland, Co. Leitrim, clearfelling of .75 Ha of Sitka Spruce

Re: Proposal to clearfell broadleaves and Sitka Spruce at Askill, Co. Leitrim

Location; Derrinivver Co. Leitrim.
NPWS have reviewed this CN84099 file which has been re-submitted by FS Dept. Ecologist due to the area being recognised as a regionally important (non- designated) area for Hen Harrier.

Application: thinning and clearfell of 9.86 ha of Norwary spruce, Scots Pine and Sitka Spruce
Location: Athdown, Wicklow

Sample standard form NPWS reply (No Comment Letter) to Forest Service

General observations from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in relation to forestry application referrals

PCAS Risk Register (Bord na Mona peatland rehabilitation)

Released under a request under the AIE Regulations for an internal review of the decision to partially refuse access to records under AIE 043-2022

Notes:

  1. Illegal (including established) turf cutting associated with areas to be rehabbed. Control measures to mitigate this risk are redacted
  2. Legal challenge to Regulatory Approvals. Control measures are a) Obtain legal advice to confirm that EDRRS is in full compliance with P&D Act 2000 and the EU (Birds and habitats) Regs 2011, the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive, b) Prepare robust legal argument for planning exemption and ensure compliance with requirements outlined; c) Robust Community Engagement and Stakeholder management to address concerns and remove motivation for challenge. d) Appoint planning consultants to prepare report for each bog. e) NPWS and DECC to discuss outcomes of Commission queries re EIA
  3. The area of the scheme reduces below the 32,779 hectares as set out in the Regulatory control document. Control measures are, a) Where potential future development/ infrastructure and surrouding buffer zone is identified as a constraint area in the rehab plans which will not be included in EDRRS then BnM will ensure that alternative land is identified to ensure that the scheme does not fall below the 32,779 hectares as per the Regulatory Control document. b) Proactive engagement by BnM land and Habitats with other BnM Business Units to in relation to constrained areas and buffers at an early stage; c) Inclusion of additional peatlands in EDRRs scheme (originally excluded for ongoing peat production) to replace potential loss of lands due to other projects; d) Early identification of areas for rehabilitation on an annual basis – 9 to 12 months in advance of rehab commencement.
  4. Discharge of peat into waterways due flooding events.
  5. Lack of compliance with EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON THE ENVIRONMENT) REGULATIONS 2007 2014 , in particular Article 5
  6. Negative impacts on drainage in neighbouring lands with risk of third party flooding being blamed on rehab measures. Note: Where pumps are to be retained – they are to be maintained
  7. Damage to EDRRS rehabilitation work and due to other developments undertaken on the same site which would negatively impact the projected outcomes of the EDRRS work
  8. Delays to Approval process for work within SACs, SPAs or NHAs
  9. Delay incurred due to the complexity of assessing and approving EDRRS rehab plans on sites where there are other complex infrastructure works at design, construction or operational stage e.g. windfarms , solar farms. The difficulty of assessing the likely impact of one project on the other as regards the intended outcomes re EDRRS

Activities requiring consent (ARCs) in SACs

Activities requiring consent (ARCs) are specific activities which have the potential to damage a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) or Special Protection Area (SPA).  SACs and SPAs are collectively termed ‘European sites’ or ‘Natura 2000 sites’. 

A list of 38 ARCs has been established, ranging from “Reclamation, including infilling” to “Lighting up caves, buildings or other places used by bats for roosts”.  The particular ARC or ARCs attached to a European Site depends on the habitats and/or species for which the site is protected.

See the complete list of 38 ARCS here.

ARCs are not prohibited activities but before being carried out, consent must be granted by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (‘the Minister’) or by another relevant public authority to which the consent function for that activity falls.  

This prior consent requirement ensures that the Minister (or the relevant competent authority) carries out the necessary environmental assessment to determine if the activity can take place and if any conditions should be attached to any consent given. 

It is an offence to carry out an ARC without prior consent.

Peatland: Grant Agreement between NPWS and Intel Corporation

Intel Agreement requested via AIE-058-2022

Project: Wicklow Mountains National Park pilot blanket bog restoration project. Areas of bog have suffered drainage and desiccation and thus require rewetting by drain blocking to raise the lowered water levels to allow recovery of the peat-forming Sphagnum mosses. This will re-start peat formation and carbon capture by the bog, and will also protect the immense store of carbon held within in the peat. Water quality can also benefit as vegetation cover improves and peat erosion is reduced.

AIE request: NPWS reports as a result of licencing referrals from Forest Service

1) a copy of all site reports and related information produced by conservation and ecological staff of the NPWS as a result of licencing referrals from the Forest Service made during 2022 that are logged on the DATS

2) a copy of all submissions made to the Forest Service in response to licencing referrals for the same period.

Tender: Technical/scientific support to NPWS in the development of GIS based data collation, analysis & management tools for relevant peatland data (Bord na Mona, EDRRS Programme)

Bord na Móna Peatlands Enhanced Decommissioning, Rehabilitation and Restoration Scheme (EDRRS) and the role of NPWS as scheme regulator

The Peatlands EDRRS was approved in 2020.  The Scheme is administered by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC), regulated by the NPWS of the DHLGH and operated by Bord na Móna.  It involves many other diverse stakeholders including the EPA, relevant NGOs, local authorities, representative organisations and importantly, the local communities.

The objectives of the scheme are as follows:

  1. To rehabilitate the Peatlands so that the improvements optimise climate, environmental, ecological and hydrological impacts; and 
  2. To rehabilitate the Peatlands in accordance with peatland rehabilitation best practice as agreed between the main stakeholders.

Bord na Móna is to implement an enhanced rehabilitation scheme on over 33,000 hectares of Bord na Móna lands previously harvested for peat that was used for fuel for the purposes of electricity generation.

The NPWS regulatory role consists of, inter alia, the following functions:

  1. Conducting an annual ex-ante assessment of proposed rehabilitation works from an ecological and financial perspective on the basis of an agreed methodology and of individual site rehabilitation plans submitted by Bord na Móna.
  • Monitoring progress being made during each year on the implementation of each site rehabilitation plan from an ecological and financial perspective to include site visits.
  • Conducting an annual ex-post review of rehabilitation works carried out by Bord na Móna on each site to ensure they have been carried out to the requisite, pre-approved ecological, eco-hydrological and environmental standards and in line with the pre-approved cost and financial standards.
  • Liaising with the DECC in relation to the implementation of the scheme.
  • Engaging any external contractors to assist with the implementation of the functions, as required, in accordance with public procurement legislation and guidelines.

This request for tender is for the provision of full-time scientific/technical support to NPWS. The scientific/technical support will be provided by one individual rather than a team. Scientific/technical support will be required in relation to the tasks described below.

The successful tenderer will primarily be responsible for assisting in setting up the data structures to collate and manage the ex-ante assessment, monitoring and ex-post assessment of the rehabilitation works spatial data produced by the EDRRS for NPWS and any other relevant peatland data.

In addition, the successful tenderer will be responsible for managing the data arising from all such work, as well as data analysis, and provide advice in relation to compliance with the following: NPWS Ecological Data Management Unit data standards and procedures, legislation and policies including the Data Sharing and Governance Act 2019, INSPIRE Directive, the Public Sector Data Strategy, the Open Data Initiative and Open Data Directive, Habitats and Birds Directives and related Irish regulations, the Water Framework Directive and other EU Environmental Directives and relevant Irish regulations, the Wildlife Acts, and the Ramsar Convention.

Under the overall direction of the Senior Inspector/Principal Officer of the NPWS of the DHLGH, the appointee will be assigned to the Ecological Data Management Section of the Science and Biodiversity Unit. The work programme will be overseen by a Grade II Ecologist in the Science and Biodiversity Unit with technical supervision from the Ecological Data Management Unit.

Tasks

  • Develop a GIS based data collation and management tool for the storing and management of all site specific rehabilitation plans spatial data including imagery and metadata compliant with international standards, suitable for integration with NPWS spatial data management systems.
  • Assist with the development of GIS web applications, and prepare and publish data layers, maps, as necessary.
  • Collate and maintain relevant raised bogs datasets including rehabilitation plans, ecological, hydrological, spatial data, imagery and related metadata.
  • In collaboration with the Ecological Data Management and GIS Units of NPWS, refine data structures for the capture of monitoring and assessment data.
  • In collaboration with the Ecological Data Management and GIS Units of NPWS, assist with the interpretation of remote imagery and the development of remote sensing methods to map changes in vegetation when required.
  • Derive statistics for relevant Biodiversity and Climate-related reporting obligations.
  • Develop and maintain effective linkages with organisations and individuals with relevant data holdings.
  • Maintain active engagement with the Ecological Data Management and GIS Units of NPWS to ensure compatibility with current and developing data standards and guidelines across all actions.
  • Attending weekly meetings with Bord na Mona as part of the EDRRS team.
  • Undertake other duties that may be assigned from time to time.

AIE Request: Peatland Rehabilitation Monitoring Documentation, Risk Register, Financial Model and GIS Data

AIE request 043_2022

Notes:

Release of the EDRRS Risk Register and Financial Model refused under AIE

Reports / maps redacted for ‘constraints’ (where the rewetting programme is constrained by other adjoining landowners, presumably agriculture, forestry and 3rd party peat extraction operations

Bord na Mona did not make shp files available to the Dept, so only pdf format available. Dept have tendered for a GIS specialist on the EDRRS programme. Unclear why the shp files have not been provided to Dept as the regulatory authority for the project. RPS Group who run BnM mapping data, have full GIS data on every bog, with detailed drainage mapping data (and used those shp files to run off pdf files for the Dept)

Monitoring and Veification Plans

Map Books

Kilgarvan Bog GIS Map Book

Bunahinly Bog GIS Map Book

Blackwater GIS Map Book

Gilltown GIS Map Book


Additional maps to follow

Clooneeny  Bog GIS Map Book

Begnagh Bog GIS Map Book

Killaranny Bog GIS Map Book


Carranstown Bog GIS Map Book


Derrinboy Bog GIS Map Book

Derryfadda Bog GIS Map Book

Prosperous Bog GIS Map Book



Derrybrat  Bog GIS Map Book



Derraghan  Bog GIS Map Book



Noggusboy South  Bog GIS Map Book



Timahoe South  Bog GIS Map Book


Lodge Bog GIS Map Book


Glenlough GIS Map Book


Cloncreen GIS Map Book


Bloomhill GIS Map Book


Knappoge GIS Map Book


Ballycon GIS Map Book




AIE Request: Peatland Restoration Projects, Misc

Under the AIE Regs to request

Copy of the agreement announced on 20 May, 2021, in which the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and Intel Corporation launched a blanket bog restoration project in the Wicklow Mountains National Park (WMNP)

Copies of any baseline studies, including scoping surveys of potential sites for management in WMNP and ecohydrological characterisation of selected sites and restoration planning/design

Copy of pre- restoration monitoring reports to quantify the project’s impact (on vegetation, carbon storage, water levels and any improved water storage capacity in study site)

Associated mapping for the above sites, in shp of similar format

Copy of the co-operation agreement announced 30th June 2022, between Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien TD, and EIB Vice-President Christian Kettel-Thomsen to strengthen cooperation for peatland restoration in Ireland with the European Investment Bank supporting NPWS efforts to accelerate the restoration of peatlands across the country

AIE Request: 4/7/22

LIFE Project Final Report: BurrenLIFE

LIFE04NAT/IE/000125
TECHNICAL FINAL REPORT

Covering the project activities from 01.09.2004 to 31.01.2010

Reporting Date: 30.04.2010

LIFE PROJECT NAME: BurrenLIFE

Farming for Conservation in the Burren

Project location Burren, County Clare, Ireland
Project start date: 01/09/2004
Project end date: 31/01/2010
Total Project duration (in months) 65 months
Total budget €2, 230, 487
EC contribution: €1, 672, 865
(%) of total costs 75%
(%) of eligible costs 75%

Name Beneficiary: National Parks and Wildlife Service -Dept. of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government

Final Report:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/162Th_MSU_pYtPLxFBqSb2jyizDA3AkZ5/view?usp=sharing