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News from Biodiversity Ireland

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News from Biodiversity Ireland
January 2023

This monthly newsletter provides an update on some of the work of the National Biodiversity Data Centre and highlights upcoming events. 

2023 sees a new structure for the National Biodiversity Data Centre 

Following a decision of Government, the National Biodiversity Data Centre has been established as a Company Limited by Guarantee. Minister of State Malcolm Noonan T.D. made the announcement on 13th December coinciding with his attendance at the COP 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Minister Noonan also announced membership of the Board of Directors, with John McCarthy a former Secretary General of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, appointed as Chairperson of the Board.  The new company will be subject to oversight by the Heritage Council.  

The Board of Directors is Geraldine Tallon, Colette Byrne, Professor Yvonne Buckley, Dr James Moran, Ciara Carbery, Máire Ní Bhraonáin, Dr Micheál Lehane, Ted Massey and Dr Colm Lorden, providing a strong blend of experience of public sector governance, biodiversity research and community involvement. 

The establishment of the National Biodiversity Data Centre as new Company comes after 16 years of the Centre being operated by Compass Informatics under contract to the Heritage Council. Over that time the Centre has develop and matured into one of the leading biodiversity centres in Europe, underpinned by a state of art bioinformatics infrastructure developed by Compass Informatics. The establishment of the National Biodiversity Data Centre as a State-sponsored company marks a new chapter in the development of the Centre. It should provide opportunities for the Centre to become better equipped and better resourced to help tackle many of the challenges that conservation of biodiversity faces in Ireland.

This new chapter builds on the success achieved to date by the National Biodiversity Data Centre. This success has been due to the dedication of the staff employed at different stages over the years, the expertise and professionalism of Compass Informatics staff, the support of key public sector partners, in particular the Heritage Council and NPWS, but also to the very large network of experts and recorders who have given generously of their expertise and time to help achieve so much. We look forward to the continued growth of the National Biodiversity Data Centre over the years ahead and hope that one of the outcomes will be an enhanced capacity within Ireland’s to better address the challenges of biodiversity 


Launch of Farmers' Wildlife Calendar 2023

The Farmers' Wildlife Calendar which aims to track the effects of weather and climate on seasonal events.

A particular date on the calendar  might tell us as humans, when is spring, summer, autumn or winter. However, dates do not control when things happen in nature, factors such as temperature, day length do. This is know as the study of phenology, which centres on the timing of naturally recurring seasonal activities of plants and animals such as for example frog spawning or plants flowering.

We know from elsewhere that on average, the timing of these naturally occurring events is happening sooner. However, the rate of increase among events is not uniform and events that evolved overtime to by in sync with each other like the emergence our pollinators and our plants may move slowly out of sync. So we may end up in a scenario where we have plants ready to be pollinated but no pollinators, or pollinators flying with no plants for them to feed on. Either way putting our biodiversity at risk.

Farmers are very familiar with a whole variety of naturally recurring events as they know their land
and observe these events each season. They also satisfy the need for participants of the study to
choose recording locations that can be visited regularly, ideally as part of a normal routine. Recording
these naturally recurring events and species in the same location each year offers the best quality
records. However, the recording scheme is open to everyone. This time of year, we are looking for the first record of Primrose and frog spawn

Go to Farmers' Wildlife Calendar

Pledge Your Garden for Pollinators

Across the island of Ireland, 748 gardens have been 'Pledged for Pollinators' - added to our online mapping system by people who are taking positive actions for pollinators in their gardens and outdoor spaces.

‘Pledging your garden for pollinators’ means you have chosen to make your outdoor space a healthy pitstop for pollinators like wild bees. By taking some simple actions, you can help provide much-needed food and shelter for these important insects, while creating a beautiful, colourful garden.
If you are striving for a pollinator-friendly garden (or park, business, school, or community area), consider adding it to the Actions for Pollinators mapping system in 2023. This helps us keep track of the number of pollinator-friendly places on the island of Ireland and brings us closer to our goal of creating a landscape where pollinators can survive and thrive.

A huge thank you to everyone who has pledged their garden so far!

Take a look at the Actions for Pollinators mapping system, and find out how to add your garden here:

Go to Actions for Pollinators

Increasing the influence of Citizen Scientists on local and national governance

As part of an EU initiative, the team here at University College Dublin (UCD) is undertaking a survey of citizen scientists concerning their experiences with data. The objective is to identify obstacles that limit participation by citizen scientists and the general public, in policy formation at the local, national, and international levels.  We are focusing broadly on experiences and perspectives with data as a broad awareness of data issues is fundamental to evidence-based decision-making.

Please complete the survey using this link:

This survey should be completed in 15 to 20 minutes maximum. The questions are relatively standard - demographic and single/multiple choice. There is only one open-ended question at the end which is optional. This survey is also being undertaken internationally so it is crucial that the Irish citizen science community also input into it.

If further information or clarification is required, the lead researcher may be contacted via email: [email protected]
A broad background to this project may be found here

Vascular Plants Dataset

There has been an updated to the Vascular Plants dataset, which is now updated with data up to the end of September 2022. Due to the large volume of records, data for quarter four of 2022 is still currently under validation, but will also be uploaded to Biodiversity Maps upon completion.
The vascular plant dataset now has 252,083 records on the system across 1,686 taxa. A huge thank you to all of our botanical recorders for submitting a huge 42,000+ plant records through Ireland’s Citizen Science Portal in 2022.

If you’re interested in recording plants but don’t know where to start, why not check out our Spring Flowers Project. The project is looking for records of 20 species, most of which are common and easily distinguished from other plant species. Spring flowers have already been spotted in flower, so over the coming weeks it’s a good time to get your eye in for what species are in your area. Keep an eye out on our social media platforms also and follow along using #SpringFlowersProject  

Spring Flowers Spotter Sheet (English)
Spring Flowers Spotter Sheet (As Gaeilge)
More information on the project and resources available in Irish and English.

Prepare for the upcoming recording season

While we are still in January and we are waiting for the upcoming field season to begin, it is the perfect time to refresh your knowledge on your identification skills or tackle a new group entirely. Ireland's Biodiversity Learning Platform hosts courses both developed by the National Biodiversity Data Centre and other organisations to support collaborative learning on Ireland's biodiversity.

Go to Ireland's Biodiversity Learning Platform

The National Biodiversity Data Centre is a programme of the Heritage Council and is operated under a service level agreement by Compass Informatics. The National Biodiversity Data Centre is funded by the Heritage Council and Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

National Biodiversity Data Centre Beechfield House, Waterford Institute of Technology West Campus, Carriganore, Co. Waterford, Ireland. X91 PE03

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