This monthy newsletter provides an update on some of the work of the National Biodiversity Data Centre and highlights upcoming events.
Launch of Ireland’s Biodiversity Learning Platform
The National Biodiversity Data Centre launched a new Ireland’s Biodiversity Learning Platform to host online courses to support learning on Ireland’s biodiversity. The long-term goal of Ireland’s Biodiversity Learning Platform is to increase the amount biodiversity learning material available for both voluntary and professionals to upskill. Ireland’s Biodiversity Learning Platform hosts online courses developed by the National Biodiversity Data Centre and is offered as a free shared-service to its partner organisations to use for some of their training needs. The number and variety of courses available through the platform will expand over the coming months and years.
For those who have completed each course, and have passed a multiple-choice quiz, a ditial certificate will be obtain as proof of achieving competency in that subject area.
Currently, five courses are available, all of which are free to take.
Identifying Ireland’s common farmland hoverflies
Marine Biodiversity Citizen Science Open Course
How to identify Ireland’s butterflies
Garden Butterfly Monitoring Scheme
How to identify, record and monitor common Irish bumblebees (no certificate available)
How local authorities can address the biodiversity emergency
A major national conference on biodiversity
A Major National Conference organised by Limerick City and County Council and the National Biodiversity Data Centre will take place on Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd September 2022 at the Strand Hotel, Limerick.
The conference aims to:
Identify some of the challenges and opportunities for local authorities to address the biodiversity emergency
Highlight best national and international practice examples where this is already happening
Provide an opportunity for the audience to identify and prioritise key actions to help biodiversity conservation and
Provide a series of key recommendations for the future priorities for local authority actions on biodiversity
The conference will be structured around four broad themes that reflect the remit of local authorities. These are Biodiversity and Infrastructure, Biodiversity and Community, Biodiversity and Climate Action, and Biodiversity and Management. Through a series of round table discussions and feedback from the participants, the conference will seek to produce a high level action plan on how local authorities can more effectively delivery biodiversity actions to address the Biodiversity Emergency.
A copy of the conference programme is available here.
This event is open to local authorities and other government agencies, non-government organisations, Tidy Towns groups, and other interested members of the public.
22 new additions to the list of Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern
In July, 22 new species were added to the list of Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern, known as ‘the Union list’ bringing the total number species on the Union list to 88. These additional species include one algae, four plant and 17 animal species. Of these species 11 are terrestrial, nine are freshwater and three are found in marine/brackish environments. This list is an integral part of the European Union’s Invasive Alien Species Regulations 1143/2014. The regulation provides a framework for addressing invasive species at European level. Member states have an obligation to take action on all species included on the list through a range of measures:
Early detection and rapid eradication of new invasions and;
Management of invasions that are already widespread
The process of adding new species to the Union list Member states and countries bordering the EU can propose species for inclusion on the Union list under the Regulation. Proposed species must be accompanied by a risk assessment and all species must meet specific criteria for inclusion. Proposed species may also be identified through the horizon scanning process overseen by panels of experts across member states carried out under this regulation.
The development of Invasive Alien Species Pathway Action Plans
Pathways are the routes and mechanisms of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species and it is important to reduce the risk of further introduction through those pathways. Under Article 13(1) of the EU Regulation on Invasive Alien Species, Ireland prioritized the development of action plans to tackle three high risk routes of introduction and spread. These are angling, recreational boating and watercraft, and movement of soil and spoil.
In July 2022, two pathway action plans targeting Angling, and Recreational Boating and Watercraft were published along with a synopsis brochure for each of the pathway action plans. The plans were supported and developed by dedicated working groups including - representative body organisations, and chaired by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
These two Pathway Action Plans will run from 2022 to 2027. Core to many of the key actions are implementation of biosecurity measures such as following the Clean, Clean, Dry code.
The first of the evidence-based Action Sheet on How to create solitary bee nest sites on your farm has been produced from the Protecting Farmland Pollinators European Innovation Partnership (EIP) project. The action sheet presents detailed guidance on how best to create suitable habitat and structures to support solitary bees on farmland. The actions sheet is evidence-based, using data collected on 40 participating farms, and clearly show what features work best in supporting solitary bees.
The project has also produced three promotional videos about different aspects of the project.
The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan has released a new guideline document to help communities protect the rare Large Carder Bee (Bombus muscorum). This is the third guide produced by the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan on protecting rare species. These guides identify the threats to some of our declining pollinators and the actions that can be taken to protect them.
Unfortunately, the most recent data from the All-Ireland Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme shows the Large Carder Bee is in ongoing decline. In Ireland, it is currently found in greatest density in coastal areas where flower-rich dunes, machair or grasslands remain. It also occurs on flower-rich bogs and heaths. Uniquely in Ireland, it can be found in urban environments, particularly in areas where there are large meadows in urban parks.
This rare bumblebee is in trouble because our landscape no longer contains enough of the habitats it requires for food, close to safe areas where it can nest. Any local community lucky enough to have this bee in their area can take simple and low-cost actions to ensure its survival.
Last month, Skerries celebrated its first Wild Bee Festival. This three-day event was a collaboration between Fingal County Council, the National Biodiversity Data Centre, and Sustainable Skerries.
Over the weekend, members of the public learned about the Large Carder Bee (Bombus muscorum), a native bumblebee that is in severe decline across Ireland but is thriving in Skerries, as a direct result of the hard-working Sustainable Skerries group.
Festival-goers were taught about pollinators and their positive impact on the native flora and fauna of Ireland through various seminars, workshops, and walks. Dr Úna FitzPatrick, co-founder of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, said: “The Skerries Wild Bee festival allowed us to support local communities in implementing the Pollinator Plan. Importantly, it also gave us the opportunity to help them track the impact of their actions by learning about the monitoring schemes run by the National Biodiversity Data Centre. The work undertaken in Skerries to protect and monitor the rare Large Carder Bee is an inspiration, and we hope to encourage many other local communities across the island to follow their lead. We also look forward to future events like this with other Councils in coming years.”
Biodiversity Transparency and Accountability for Business
The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan’s Business Supporters, for the first time this year, are both reporting and mapping on ‘Actions for Pollinators’ – the Pollinator Plan’s biodiversity-accountability portal. The Pollinator Plan – which is voluntary and free to join - is considered an entry-level into biodiversity on any site and allows large multi-site corporates, SMEs and microenterprises to deliver and then map evidence-based actions.
The Pollinator Plan’s Agri-business Officer, Sarah Kelly said: “The new mandatory requirement to report and map is the perfect ‘measurement’ tool which allows businesses to demonstrate their pollinator-biodiversity credentials. We are really excited to see the extent of pollinator-biodiversity work with which business has been engaged in 2022 and we will publish at the beginning of December. Watch this space!”
In August and September Explore Your Shore! teamed up with a number of partner organisations to run Marin Bioblitzes. The ideal is simple enough… head to the shore around low tide and record as many marine species as possible! Our first Marine Bioblitz was a cross-border collaboration with our colleagues at Ulster Wildlife, Seasearch Northern Ireland and the Centre for Environmental Data and Recording (CEDaR). While the Ulster Wildlife and CEDaR teams hit the shore at Rostrevor on the north Shore of Carlingford Lough, a small but elite Seasearch NI team took to the balmy waters of the south shore of the Lough at Greenore. Meanwhile Explore Your Shore! hit the shore just outside the Lough at Templetown, Co. Louth. While the species tally is still being added up from all sites, 99 species were recorded at Templetown in just two hours!
In September we teamed up with Birdwatch Ireland’s Cuskinny Marsh Nature reserve volunteers to conduct a Marine Bioblitz at Cuskinny Bay, Cobh, Co. Cork. A really eager team of volunteer recorders showed up for the event and we enjoyed four hours recording the amazing biodiversity of this little bay. Some of the highlights included Leach’s Squat Lobster, Risso’s and Montagu’s crabs, and a mind-boggling abundance of seaweeds. Again, we are still tallying up the species, but the count already stands at 104 species.
In addition to clocking up species, this was a really great opportunity to learn species identification from experienced and expert recorders. We had some very keen junior marine biologists on hand, who showed a fantastic eye for rooting out different species beneath the rocks. Why not conduct a mini-Bioblitz of your local shore and help us find the most biodiverse shore in Ireland? Using our Seashore Spotter form, you can record any species you can identify and submit photos of species you don’t recognise, and we will validate them for you.
It’s still not too late to record Dragonflies & Damselflies!
A distinct coolness in the air has descended as we head into September and many people will already be consigning “summer species” to the back of their minds. But there’s still time left to record dragonflies and damselflies, with some species active into the Autumn months. September is actually the peak month for recording one of the newest additions to the Irish fauna, the Migrant Hawker which was first recorded here in 2000, and has since spread north-westwards across the country. One of Ireland’s largest dragonflies, the Common Hawkeris active at small lakes, pools and streams through September and on into October, depending on the weather.
The darters (Common Darter, Ruddy Darter and Black Darter) are also active through September at a variety of freshwater habitats. And it’s not just dragonflies, Emerald Damselflies too may still be seen at small lakes and ponds across Ireland well into September. In addition to all of these, there is quite likely to be the odd hanger-on of a range of dragonfly and damselfly species at many sites across the country, to provide additional recording interest. Autumn is also the time of year we cast an eye to the south coast in the hope of spotting migrants from warmer climes in Europe and further afield, such as the Vagrant Emperor. With record temperatures still prevailing on the continent, who knows what may show up on our southern shores this year?
So, although you are unlikely to encounter ideal survey conditions, Autumn is still a good time to head to your local freshwater habitat to see how many dragonfly and damselfly species you can record.
Dragonfly Ireland Workshop: An introduction to Dragonflies and Damselflies
Saturday September 17th 2022 – 10am to 3pm
Join the National Biodiversity Data Centre and Wexford County Council for an introduction to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Ireland. During this workshop we will look at the features used to identify Ireland’s Dragonfly and Damselfly species, how to survey for them, and where to find them. We will visit local wetland habitats in search some of the dragonfly and damselfly species found in the area, including migrant species from Europe and farther afield. This workshop is suitable for beginners and those wishing to refresh their identification skills.
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