This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon research and innovation programme under grant agreement.
The European Union aims to reduce net carbon emissions by 55% in 2030, and become climate neutral by 2050.
These goals can only be met if it boosts carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems, preferably while fostering socio-environmental co-benefits such as conserving biodiversity, adapting to climate change, and safeguarding socio-economic and cultural values.
Both the IPCC and the IPBES have emphasised the great potential of ecosystem restoration and related nature-based solutions (NbS) for addressing the challenge.
wildE introduces ‘climate-smart rewilding’ as an innovative restoration approach to create climate benefits while also addressing other socio-environmental needs.
The project gathers a multi-disciplinary team of leading European experts to develop a research and innovation programme addressing the climate-biodiversity nexus in tight association with the socio-economic dimension of large-scale restoration.
The team will also project scenarios to assess Europe’s rewilding potentials under diverse land-use and climate change futures. wildE will
(i) generate comprehensive case-comparative data on European rewilding trends and outcomes,
(ii) quantify the net social, economic and environmental benefits, synergies and trade-offs related to rewilding and alternative land-use options;
(iii) develop cutting-edge projections for future land use and climate scenarios; and
(iv) develop tangible and readily accessible decision-support and management guidelines to enable policymakers, conservation managers, communities, and the private sector to co-construct climate-smart rewilding strategies as effective NbS for meeting the EU’s climate and biodiversity targets.
Embedded within an ambitious stakeholder engagement, communications programme, wildE research will enable climate-smart rewilding as operational large-scale NbS to effectively foster the natural capacity of Europe’s ecosystems for climate change mitigation, adaptation and biodiversity support.
With 8 case studies across Europe, wildE will deliver scientific insights, methods and tools for different geographic, ecological and social contexts, in order to assist EU policy makers, national governments, regions, local communities and commercial companies in embedding rewilding-type ecological restoration in their policies and plans for achieving carbon neutrality, enhancing climate adaptation and reversing biodiversity loss.
Climate-smart rewilding: ecological restoration for climate change mitigation, adaptation and biodiversity support in Europe
Status: In progress
Start project: Jan 1, 2023
End project: Dec 31, 2026
Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement (INRAE) INRAE Transfert SAS Karlsruher Institut für Technologie Oppla EEIG University of Copenhagen Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Centro de Investigación Ecológica y Aplicaciones Forestales European Forest Institute Lund University Associação BIOPOLIS Institute of Forest Ecology, Slovak Academy of Sciences International Union for the Conservation of Nature EU Representative Office Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg Czech University of Life Sciences Prague Aarhus University Antarr Sustainable Productive Forest, Sa Biologische Station Westliches Ruhrgebiet e.V. Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen – KNAW University of Galway Coillte Teoranta Sveaskog Förvaltnings AB
Report is one of the key outputs of phase one of the National Land Use Review
Main Report Structure: • Chapter 1. Current Land Cover, Land Use, and Trends • Chapter 2. Greenhouse Gas Fluxes from Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land • Chapter 3. Climate Change Scenarios and Impacts • Chapter 4. Land Use Scenarios for Net-Zero • Chapter 5. Land Use Change Impacts: Synergies and Trade-offs • Chapter 6. Options to Support Policy Development
“All environmental records relating to the ongoing HydroSED project to include, but not restricted to • Methodology • Interim Reports • Preliminary findings • Correspondence • GIS data (in GIS format).”
Basis for refusal:
Methodologies outlined in the HydroSED Research Grant Proposal report and referred to in the Dr O’Sullivan’s correspondence file are being withheld in accordance with Article 9 (1)(d) of the AIE Regulations.
The premature release of this information at this time would seriously disadvantage the projects in question, UCD as Research Performing Organisation leading the research, and the funding provider, in financial, competitive and potentially commercial terms.
While the project is ongoing, it is important that this information is protected from release as there are real concerns that release of such comprehensive elements contained within the proposal into the public domain leave the project, including the location sites, timeframes, risks and proposed changes and anticipated deliverables at risk of being compromised.
Our funders hold the view that this information should only be released when the project has been completed and final report published.
Release of our project proposal could affect our ability to attain funding in the future.
Similarly the 6-month interim report and Year 1 Scientific Progress report, as per attached schedule, provide detailed updates on the project to our funder, DAFM and are withheld in accordance with Articles 9 (1)(d) and 9 (2) of the AIE Regulations.
These reports contain detailed updates to DAFM about the live and ongoing research being carried out and unfinished scientific data.
This scientific data also forms part of our PhD student’s degree, who is conducting research with the data. Early release of this information into the public domain, may lead to other parties deciding to use the data for their own benefit, which would seriously compromise our student’s thesis and PhD
Premature release of this data, which is subject to change over the course of the project, would have no significant meaning without the final findings and would be open to incorrect interpretation by other individuals which could negatively impact the project itself. For this reason, project data and project files contained within Dr O’Sullivan’s correspondence file have also been withheld/redacted.
Disclosure would adversely affect intellectual property rights. Release of records under the AIE regulations are considered as being released to the world at large and in doing so we must assume that release of information contained within the proposal and interim reports that are subject to intellectual property could be commercially exploited or used in a way that would constitute an unauthorised infringement of the intellectual property rights. In accordance with the terms of the project, any IP emanating from the project will be owned by the research performing organisations and access to industry parties will be via licensing which shall be on fair commercial terms, subject to overall State Aid, technology transfer and other legal or government policy considerations.
In line with DAFM’s commitment to ensuring that the research outputs are made available to all potential end users, it is expected that once the project is finished, expected completion date 31 August 2024, and the final report is published, then the results would be shared, contingent on the coordinator’s consent to publish.
In applying these exemptions, I have also considered Articles 10(3) and 10(4) of the AIE Regulations.
Factors in favour of releasing the information include, • right of the public to have access information, • the need for an open, transparent and accountable public service and • the need for scrutiny of decisions.
Factors opposing release of the records into the public domain include, • protecting the integrity of university processes, • maintaining confidentiality of IP rights, • protection of unfinished research and material in the course of completion and, • protection of the university’s ability to secure future funding for similar projects.
Having weighed up all factors, I have determined that the public interest would be best served by not disclosing the information.
Contrasting Impacts of Conifer Forests on Brown Trout and Atlantic Salmon in Headwater Streams in Ireland
(Author(s): Simon S.C. Harrison, Steven Hutton, Jan-Robert Baars, Robert Cruikshanks, James Johnson, Guillaume Juhel, Tadeuz Kirakowski, Ronan Matson, John O’Halloran, Paul Phelan, and Mary Kelly-Quinn)
The River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) is an essential component of the European Union Water Framework Directive that details an integrated approach required to protect, improve and sustainably manage water resources. RBMP were intended to be produced for the periods 2009–2015, 2016–2021 and 2022–2027. However, after two years of delays in the development processes, the Republic of Ireland produced its first RBMP in 2010.
The second RBMP cycle was also implemented in 2018 and is expected to run until the end of 2021 to give way to the third RBMP, whose consultation processes have been ongoing since December 2019. This paper contributes to the forthcoming RBMP by assessing stakeholders’ perspectives on the second RBMP through a desk-based review and by conducting interviews with nine institutions (14 interviewees).
The qualitatively analysed interviews reveal a broad spectrum of actors associated with water management and governance in the Republic of Ireland through a three-tier governance structure that has been delivered (with amendment) through the first two RBMPs.
Organisations such as the An Fóram Uisce|The Water Forum, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Local Authority Waters, and the Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme have responsibilities designated in the RBMPs to deliver improved water quality, integrated catchment management, community engagement and awareness-raising. Trust has also been building up among these organisations and other agencies in the water sector.
Despite these responsibilities and progress made, the interviews identified communication lapses, ineffective collaboration and coordination among stakeholders and late implementation to be hampering the successful delivery of the second RBMP, in addition to significant pressures acting on water bodies from agricultural activities and urban wastewater treatment.
Towards the third RBMP, the paper concludes that optimised water sector finance, enhanced and well-resourced communications, and improved stakeholder collaboration are needed to foster effective and efficient water services delivery and quality. More so, given the cross-cutting impact of the Sustainable Development Goals on water resources and the interconnected relations among the goals, the paper further recommends the integration of the SDGs in the various plans of actions and a co-benefits approach to derive the triple benefits from biodiversity, climate change initiatives and water quality measures.
This programme undertakes research on behavioural and attitudinal change in respect of Ireland’s water resources.
There are two overarching research questions: are policy measures implemented under the River Basin Management Plan intended to change behaviours successful (i.e., do behaviours change) and are the changes in behaviour having a non-negligible impact on the primary objective, in this case improving water quality?
The research is being undertaken in collaboration with Ireland’s Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Broiler and layer production in Ireland combined account for approximately 2% of Ireland’s national ammonia emissions (EEA, 2015).
Poultry production in Ireland is predominantly in the form of intensive agriculture. Broiler production involves raising chickens in large houses for 35 – 40 days, after which they and the manure that has built up are removed from the house.
Layer birds are housed continuously throughout the year and manure is removed via conveyor belts. As the farms are located in discrete locations, any atmospheric ammonia produced by poultry manure during production is considered a point source of atmospheric ammonia.
As a point source, the concentration around these houses is more likely to exceed limits designed to protect sensitive habitats and species at a local level, compared to diffuse sources such as cattle housing or land spreading of manure.
Background: The Hen Harrier is an Annex 1 listed species afforded protection under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives that is found sparsely distributed across ireland. Researchers at University College Cork have examining the relationship between Hen Harriers and land-use change since 2000. This study on Hen Harriers and wind farms was focused on expanding the knowledge base on Hen Harrier ecology and windfarm interactions in an Irish context, to provide evidence based data for policy makers, industry and other stakeholders. The 30 month study was undertaken at University College Cork School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Science under the leadership of Professor John O’Halloran.
Project Objectives: The aim of this project was to provide scientific support for strategic planning for the development of the wind energy sector in an environmentally sustainable manner, while ensuring the conservation interests of the Hen Harrier are protected. Members of the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) the national association for the wind industry in Ireland provided financial support for this study.
Project Findings: The primary conflict between wind energy development and Hen Harrier conservation is the large spatial overlap between these competing resources. Of the 69 survey squares across Ireland where breeding Hen Harriers were recorded in 2010, this study found that 28% of squares coincided with one or more wind energy developments by 2012. A weak negative relationship was identified between wind farm presence and the observed change in the number of breeding Hen Harrier pairs in survey squares between 2000 and 2010. However, the available evidence suggests that this was not a causative relationship.
Prey availability is an important factor in mediating the effects of land use change on Hen Harrier populations and, in this study, densities of small birds on which Hen Harrier prey were lower at wind farm study sites than at control sites and lower closer to turbines (within 100m) at wind farm study sites than further away. The particular species of bird that were impacted by wind farm development was dependent on the existing habitat at the site and the extent of the area affected by modifications related to wind farm construction.
The impacts of land use change are often mediated through impacts on foraging success, which was investigated during this study using novel GPS tags combined with traditional vantage point watches. The findings highlight the importance for Hen Harriers of open habitats suitable for foraging and the selection of foraging habitats by Hen Harriers differed between wind farm and control study sites. Although the availability of open and young forested habitats was similar at all study sites, the use of forested areas was lower around wind farms relative to control study sites.
Impacts of wind farms on either prey availability or hunting efficiency may ultimately impact on birds through effects breeding success and so this study also examined the breeding performance of Hen Harrier pairs in Ireland in relation to wind energy development. Three measures of breeding performance (nest success, fledged brood size and productivity) were used and no statistically significant relationships with distance to wind turbines were found. However, lower nest success rates were recorded within 1km of turbines which, although not statistically significantly different to nest success rates further away from turbines, may be of biological relevance and cannot be ignored. Where nests within 1km of wind turbines were successful, their fledged brood sizes were not different from those nests further away from turbines.
Birds are at risk of collision with wind turbines only when their flight path overlaps with the rotor blade sweep area of a wind turbine and in the current study, adult Hen Harriers were seen to spend 12% of their flight time at wind farms at turbine rotor sweep height and this did not differ between wind farm and control sites. The amount of time spent flying at this height by newly fledged Hen Harriers close to the nest was negligible (<1%). Using conservative estimates, collision risk analysis revealed that, over the life time of a typical wind farm in Ireland (25 years), the number of Hen Harrier deaths resulting from collisions with wind turbines is estimated to be in the range of 0.8 to 2.5 birds. These findings demonstrate that Hen Harriers are at low risk of collision with wind farm infrastructure as a result of their typically low flight height and known avoidance behaviour.
This study makes a significant contribution to the body of knowledge on the interaction between wind farm development and Hen Harriers in Ireland and provides high quality scientific evidence to support the formulation of policy and practice. This is the first study of this kind in Ireland and further investigations will be required, when further data become available, to understand more fully the effects involved.
Fernández-Bellon, D., Wilson, M.W., Irwin, S. and O’Halloran, J. 2018. Effects of development of wind energy and associated changes in land use on bird densities in upland areas. Conservation Biology, 33(2): 413-422. ConservationBiology2018
Wilson, M.W., Fernández-Bellon, D., Irwin, S. and O’Halloran, J. 2016. Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus population trends in relation to wind farms. Bird Study, 64:20-29. Wilsonetal2016
Fernández-Bellon, D., Irwin, S., Wilson, M.W. and O’Halloran, J. 2015. Reproductive output of Hen Harriers Circus cyaneus in relation to wind turbine proximity. Irish Birds, 10: 145-150. FernandezBellon2015