AIE: Forest Service referral matrix to NPWS for forestry applications adjoining or upsteam of Natura 2000 sites

A copy of all records which informed the development and agreement of a referral matrix with the Forest Service where forestry applications adjoining or upstream of Natura 2000 sites can be assessed for impacts without automatic referral to NPWS as part of its EIS and AAP screening process; to include a copy of the referral matrix itself.

NPWS role in the ecological assessment of forestry activities controlled by the FS of DAFM

AIE: Afforestation of Natura 2000 sites in Co. Leitrim without Appropriate Assessment

AIE Request


To assess the extent of the private afforestation of land within Natura 2000 SAC Sites in Co. Leitrim and to determine whether correct procedures were followed in respect of Appropriate Assessment under Article 6.3 of the Habitats Directive.


The DAFM PrivateForest2019 dataset was overlaid with the relevant NPWS datasets for Natura 2000 SAC Sites in Co. Leitrim using QGIS. The clipped area that resulted identified a number of areas within the SAC’s which have been afforested since 1996.

An Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) request was submitted to DAFM for copies of the Stage 2 Appropriate Assessments and related Natura Impact Statements for the identified sites. Where no Stage 2 Assessment was carried out I sought records of the Stage 1 Assessment which had been conducted to screen out the development from Appropriate Assessment.

The AIE request returned no records indicating the no Appropriate Assessment, including screening, has been carried out for any of these developments.


PrivateForest2019 ERSI shapefiles provide by DAFM on 14th April 2020

Designated Site Boundary Data was downloaded from


10 sites were identified which involved the afforestation land within four SAC’s.

Of these 3 sites were eliminated from this report on the basis that the afforestation occurred before the site was officially designated. 

Where an Appropriate Assessment was required under Article 6.3 of the Habitats Directive but was not conducted there is a legal requirement on the Competent Authority to carry out a retrospective assessment.

Until such an assessment has been conducted the afforestation of these lands is in contravention of European Law.

Full details on each site in AIE available on request

Natura 2000 data – the European network of protected sites

Natura 2000 is the key instrument to protect biodiversity in the European Union. It is an ecological network of protected areas, set up to ensure the survival of Europe’s most valuable species and habitats. Natura 2000 is based on the 1979 Birds Directive and the 1992 Habitats Directive. This version covers the reporting in 2020.

Natura 2000 is an ecological network composed of sites designated under the Birds Directive (Special Protection Areas or SPAs) and the Habitats Directive (Sites of Community Importance or SCIs, and Special Areas of Conservation or SACs).

The European database of Natura 2000 sites consists of a compilation of the data submitted by the Member States of the European Union. This European database is generally updated once a year to take into account any updating of national databases by Member States. However, the release of a new EU-wide database does not necessarily mean that a particular national dataset has recently been updated.

The descriptive data in the European database are based on the information that national authorities have submitted, for each of the Natura 2000 sites, through a site-specific standard data form (SDF). In addition to other site-specific information, the standard data form provides the list of all species and habitat types for which a site is officially designated.

The spatial data (outlining the boundaries of sites) submitted by each Member State are validated by the European Environment Agency (EEA).