Encounters with biodiversity: A photo-story competition

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The National Biodiversity Data Centre is running a photo-story competition ‘Encounters with biodiversity’ to profile aspects of Ireland’s biodiversity and to provide a platform for photographers and naturalists to highlight their special interest. Entrants are invited to submit an original photograph with accompanying text (no more than 250 words) to describe the photograph and/or scene, the experience of taking the photograph or a piece to profile a particular aspect of Ireland’s biodiversity. The aim of the competition is to communicate the value of Ireland’s biological diversity and raise awareness of how it is changing.

 

Terms and conditions

The Encounters with biodiversity photo-story competition will run until 17:00hrs on Friday, 9th January 2015.

The photographs and text submitted must be the original work of the person who submits them.

A preference will be given to photographs of biodiversity in their wild, natural setting taken on the island of Ireland or its territorial waters.

A licence will be required from National Parks and Wildlife Service for photographing protected animals or birds at breeding or nesting places.

Basic enhancements to digital images are allowed, such as adjustment of brightness, contrast, etc, but significant altering of images, such as cloning and removal of subjects is not encouraged.

If photographs include recognisable people, then permission of the subjects should be obtained.

Images should be submitted as JPEG/JPG files and text in a word document, and both emailed to competition@biodiversityireland.ie.

The minimum acceptable image resolution is 1280×960 pixels and the maximum allowable file size is 5MB.

Each entry must have a short title of no more than 50 characters and the name of the entrant, eg ‘Birds at dawn – Michael O’Brien’, or ‘Life in the undergrowth – Mary Murphy’. This will appear with the photograph and text on the Data Centre’s Facebook page.

Entries received from under 18 year olds should be indicated in the subject line eg. ‘Birds at dawn – Micheal O’Brien (U18)’ or ‘Life in the undergrowth – Mary Murphy (U18)’.

Entrants will retain the full copyright of their image and text.

Entrants will licence the National Biodiversity Data Centre to use the photograph and text in promotional material of the Data Centre, but use of the material will at all times be accredited to the entrant.

The National Biodiversity Data Centre respects the intellectual property of all entrants and we ask that all Facebook users do the same. All the entrant’s material displayed on Facebook is protected by copyright and should not be copied or reproduced without the consent of the owner.

Facebook will be the only medium used for displaying entries whilst the competition is in progress.

All appropriate entries will be uploaded to an album on the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s Facebook page. The Data Centre reserves the right to reject or disqualify entrants from the competition if the subject matter is not considered appropriate to the theme, or is considered offensive, defamatory, indecent or obscene.

The top entries, based jointly on the quality of the photograph and the text, will be selected for shortlisting by the National Biodiversity Data Centre. Facebook users will be invited to give their preference for the shortlisted entries by ‘liking’ their preferred image.

The winners will be awarded by a judging panel set up by the National Biodiversity Data Centre. First prize €500, second prize €200 and third prize €100. A special prize of €200 will be given to the best entry received from entrants under 18 years of age.

By entering it is understood that you agree to the terms and conditions of the competition.

Distinguished Recorder Award 2014

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The National Biodiversity Data Centre is delighted to announce that Dr. Joanne Denyer and Dr. Tom Gittings are jointly to be awarded the Distinguished Recorder Award for 2014 at a special awards ceremony at the Royal Irish Academy, Dawson Street, Dublin 2 at 11:00hrs on Friday, 7th November.

More than 20 nominations were received for this year’s award, and the Data Centre is pleased to make this joint award in recognition to the outstanding contributions both Joanne and Tom have made to biological recording in Ireland.

Dr Joanne Denyer

Dr Joanne Denyer

Dr Joanne Denyer is one of Ireland’s few bryophyte specialists. Jo has made a significant contribution to our knowledge of bryophyte distributions in Ireland and worked across Ireland to enthuse others about bryophytes and their recording. She was inspired to take up botany by Professor Clive Stace whilst she was an undergraduate at Leicester University. Whilst later completing a DPhil in Plant Ecology at the University of Sussex, she had her first encounters with bryophytes. Rod Stern encouraged her to join the British Bryological Society (BBS) and her interest in bryophyte grew from there. When she later moved to the Macaulay Institute in Aberdeen, to work on upland plant communities, she continued to develop her bryophyte knowledge through BBS field meetings, courses and self-teaching.

In 2008, Jo moved to Ireland to work as an ecological consultant and quickly became involved in leading bryophyte field meetings for the Dublin Naturalist Field Club (DNFC). The Heritage Council, BBS and DNFC supported two bryophyte recording projects she ran in 2010 and 2012 in Counties Wicklow and Kildare. The aim of these projects was to collect data in under-recorded areas and to train beginner bryologists to identify and record bryophytes. During this time she also founded the BBS Irish bryophyte group, which aims to develop bryophyte expertise in Ireland though field meetings and knowledge sharing. There is an annual programme of field meetings and an Irish Bryophyte Facebook page to share news and event details. She also helped to establish a network of BBS Regional Recorders in Ireland and there are now recorders for ten vice-counties. Jo regularly organises formal and informal recording meetings for the BBS in Ireland and Northern Ireland. From 2009 to 2013 this was focused on collecting data for the New Atlas of British and Irish Bryophytes, which is due to be published in November 2014. These meetings have resulted in nearly 60,000 bryophyte records, including over 1,000 New Vice County Records.

Jo currently works as an ecological consultant (Denyer Ecology), specialising in botany and bryophytes. In addition to consultancy work, she trains Ireland’s next generation of bryologists by lecturing in bryology at National University of Ireland, Galway and University College Dublin and is a Visiting Research Fellow at Queen’s University, Belfast.   She is the BBS Regional Bryophyte Recorder for Counties Wicklow and Kildare, the BBS Irish Conservation officer and a member of the BBS Conservation and Recording Committee. She regularly provides bryological training courses in Ireland for amateurs and professionals.

None of this would have been possible without the support of BBS bryophyte experts and the dedication of Irish bryologists (in particular Neil Lockhart, Maurice Eakin, Rory Hodd and George Smith). Many experts have generously given their time to long recording days in Ireland helping to train Irish bryologists. The bryology community has provided inspiration, support, training and friendship.

 

Dr Tom Gittings

Dr Tom Gittings

Dr Tom Gittings interest in natural history began at the age of 11 when his Grandfather gave him a gift of membership of the Young Ornithologists’ Club. He quickly became a keen birdwatcher and then expanded his interests into other fields of natural history. Tom completed a degree in Ecology at UEA (Norwich), with a final year dissertation on the Blue-tailed Damselfly, and then a PhD at UCC on dung beetles. On finishing his PhD, Tom worked for an environmental consultancy for five years, before returning to academia as a postdoctoral researcher for nine years. Since 2010, he has been working as an independent consultant. A major focus of his work during this time has been carrying out research into waterbird interactions with aquaculture and shellfisheries and preparing Appropriate Assessments of coastal SPAs using the results of this research.

Tom’s postdoctoral research gave him the opportunity to develop his entomological knowledge through the use of hoverflies and other invertebrate groups as indicator groups to study the biodiversity of forestry and wetland habitats. Tom was very fortunate to benefit from the immense expertise of Dr Martin Speight in learning to identify and understand hoverflies, and has tried to “pay it forward” by helping others with this fascinating and important group of insects. During his research he also studied a range of other invertebrate groups including spiders, snail-killing flies, soldierflies and moths. Since completing his research, Tom has continued to record hoverflies and other invertebrates. In recent years, he has focused a lot on recording solitary bees, and has begun to get to grips with solitary wasps, due to the prominence of these groups in the coastal habitats of east Cork where he lives.

Tom has been supporting the Data Centre since its establishment. He submits large numbers of personal records as well as anything collected professionally that is not under restriction. He acts as the national validator of hoverfly data submitted to the Centre. In 2014 Tom provided a full reference collection of hoverflies to the Centre for public use through the Centre as an identification resource. Tom also encourages insect recording through social media and collates records from Irish Facebook sites which he supplies to the Centre on a regular basis. Tom has also one of the longest standing volunteers on the Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme. Further details about Tom’s consultancy work and entomological recording are available at www.gittings.ie.

Ireland’s 5th National report to the Convention on Biological Diversity

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Ireland’s 5th national report to the Convention on Biological Diversity has been submitted to the CBD Secretariat (download report -8MB). National Reports are important benchmarks in measuring progress towards protecting biodiversity and the ecosystem services they provide.  These reports provide the CBD with an important source of information for a mid-term review of progress towards the implementation of the international Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.  Some of the highlights of the report include:

Trends in conservation status of habitats and species

Primarily based on the status of species and habitats protected under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives:

  • Of the 58 habitats assessed, 9% were assessed as having Favourable conservation status, 50% Inadequate and 41% Bad.  Comparing the 2007 and 2013 assessments, the status of 48% of habitats remained unchanged, 31% declined, 16% improved and 5% of unknown trend.
  • 74% of assessed intertidal locations were classified of having good or high ecological status, 12% as moderate, 8% as poor and 4% as bad.
  • Of the 61 species assessed, 52% were Favourable, 20% Inadequate, 12% Bad and 16% of unknown status.  Comparing the 2007 and 2013 assessments, the status of 82% of species remained unchanged, 10% declined, 6% improved and 2% of unknown status.
  • Of the 135 bird species breeding in Ireland, the short-term population status has decreased for 27% of species, is stable for 24%, is increasing for 51% and is unknown for 15%.  The long-terms status has declined for 18% of species, is stable for 7%, is increasing for 19% and is unknown for 56%.

Trends in pressures on habitats and species

  • 50% of the reported pressures on protected habitats relate to ecologically unsuitable grazing regimes (either undergrazing or overgrazing).  Whereas, over 50% of the pressures identified as having a high impact on habitats relate to drainage of primarily peatland habitats.
  • Climate change is now considered a high impact pressure on 10% of habitats, largely coastal and upland habitats.
  • There has been a reduction in pollution from household waste, sewage systems and pollution arising from agricultural or forestry related activities, but pollution is the primary pressure impacting species with 61% of EU Habitats Directive species being affected.
  • From 2001-2010 there were 75 high and medium impact invasive species recorded in Ireland, compared to 60 in 1991-2000.

Progress with implementation the national biodiversity action plan

  • The report notes good progress on implementation of the 102 actions listed in Ireland’s national biodiversity action plan, Actions for Biodiversity 2011-2016. 23% of the actions have been implemented, 66% are in progress and 11% require further action. Despite the progress made, the report notes that the recession had a significant impact on human and financial resources available in the public sector for biodiversity-related work.

Knowledge gaps

  • Much of Ireland’ marine area remains largely unexplored, therefore little is known about the conservation status of marine habitats and non-commercially exploited species.
  • Most information on the status of species and habitats relates to those afforded protection under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives.  For bird species protected under the Birds Directive, long-term data is lacking for more than half of the 196 species assessed.
  • There are significant gaps in our knowledge of the conservation status, threat and pressures of species and habitats that occur in the wider countryside.
  • In particular, the report highlights the insufficient knowledge of ecosystem services to assess what are the cultural and socio-economic implications of changes in habitats and species.
  • This knowledge gap could be very significant for the:     117,000 people engaged in agriculture and the agri-food sector, contributing €24 billion each year to the Irish economy; €100 million per annum forestry industry, and related amenity, woodland-related domestic and international tourism and carbon sequestration benefits of the woodland estate; most productive fishing grounds in the EU that generate over 900,000 tonnes of fish with an estimated landed value of €1.04 billion600,000 ha of wetlands in Ireland, and a freshwater angling sector that involves 406,000 anglers generating annual expenditure of €555 million per annum.

Annual Review 2013

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Annual Review 2013

Click on image to download the Review

The National Biodiversity Data Centre has published its Annual Review 2013. This report presents an overview of the main work and achievements of the Data Centre in 2013. Some of the key achievements include, continued expansion of the national biodiversity database to publish 2.8 million biodiversity records, provision of dynamic distribution maps of 13,700 species, facilitating the production of additional Red Lists, an extensive programme of training workshops to help build capacity across the sector, and the broadcast by RTÉ of two programmes on Ireland’s BioBlitz.

The report also lists the large number of individuals and partner organisations who are essential to the delivery of the work programme of the Data Centre.

Mapping Ecosystem Services in Ireland workshop

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The sustainable management of our natural capital, facilitated by mapping and assessing the condition of our ecosystems and the provision of ecosystem services, is now a national (Actions for Biodiversity 2011-2016, Target 3) and international imperative (EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, Action 5; CBD Strategic Plan 2011-2020, Target 2). A Working Group on Mapping and Assessment on Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) was established under the EU Common Implementation Framework to provide support for countries to map and assess the state of ecosystems and their services in the national territory.

To support the initiation of the MAES process in Ireland and the Irish Forum on Natural Capital, a Symposium on Mapping Ecosystem Services in Ireland, jointly organised by the National Biodiversity Data Centre, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, will be held in Waterford IT on the 16th February, 2015. The aim of the symposium is to explore the technical challenges involved in national ecosystem assessment and ecosystem service mapping, as well as the identification of existing data and data needs within Ireland.

A detailed programme for the event will be released soon. The list of confirmed speakers includes:

Dr. Leon Braat, Senior Researcher of International Biodiversity Policy, Alterra Wageningen-UR, the Netherlands; Project Co-ordinator of “Mapping of Ecosystems and their Services in the EU and its Member States (MESEU)” for DG Environment.

Dr. Nicola Beaumont, Environmental Economist with a focus on ecosystem services in the marine environment, Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

Dr. Craig Bullock, Environmental Economist manager of Optimize Ltd. and Research Fellow in the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy, UCD.

To register for the event, please visit the National Biodiversity Data Centre event page. The €20 registration fee is non-refundable and payable in advance.

 

All-Ireland Pollinator Symposium: 17th February 2015

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An All-Ireland Pollinator Action Plan 2015-2020 is currently being developed. It is being led by the National Biodiversity Data Centre and the Pollination Ecology Research Group in TCD. The Action Plan provides an important framework to bring together pollinator initiatives across the island of Ireland, and is the start of a process by which we can collectively take positive steps to protect Irish pollinators and the service they provide into the future. The plan outlines actions necessary under a number of keys areas: data needs, research needs, policy needs, education and communication needs, and site based actions. A steering group, representative of key stakeholders, will oversee publication and implementation of the plan which will go out for a two month public consultation phase in January-February 2015. A one-day All-Ireland Pollinator Symposium will be held in Waterford on the 17th February 2015. This meeting will present the plan and provide opportunity for public engagement. There will also be a series of talks on how best to move forward on specific actions. It is hoped that all those with an interest in Irish pollinators and their conservation will attend.

To register for the event please visit our event page. The registration fee is €10.

Notification of Third Round of Public Consultation on Non-native Species Risk Assessments

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Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and the National Biodiversity Data Centre (Data Centre) have been tasked by the National Parks and Wildlife Service to undertake risk assessments on certain non-native species listed in the Third Schedule to the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 (SI 477/2011; http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/2011/en/si/0477.html). The risk assessments provide evidence-based knowledge that will be used by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in the implementation of Regulations 49, 50 and 74. These regulations are concerned with the prohibition on the introduction, dispersal, trading and keeping of certain non-native species and associated licensing requirements that may apply.

Each risk assessment completed (refer to list below) has undergone an internal review and an external expert review and is now available for stakeholder and public consultation on the project website www.nonnativespecies.ie. This Third Round of Public Consultation on Non-native Species Risk Assessments is to facilitate requests received from stakeholders to extend the consultation period. As we wish to provide for the maximum public input to this process, we invite any interested parties to make submissions on these completed risk assessments which are available for comment for a one month period, ending Friday 12th September 2014.

Additional information on the Non-native Species Risk Assessment Project can be found on the project website www.nonnativespecies.ie . Guidance information on the licensing requirements can be viewed at http://nonnativespecies.ie/notices-and-documentation/

The following risk assessments are now available for comment until the 12/09/2014:

Animals

  • Astacus astacus (Noble Crayfish)
  • Astacus leptodactylus (Turkish Crayfish)
  • Bufo bufo (Common Toad)
  • Capreolus capreolus (Roe Deer)
  • Corbicula fluminea (Asian River Clam)
  • Crepidula fornicata (Slipper Limpet)
  • Cyprinus carpio (Carp)
  • Hydropotes inermis (Chinese Water Deer)
  • Leuciscus cephalus  (Chub)
  • Lithobates catesbeianus (American Bullfrog)
  • Muntiacus reevesi (Muntjac Deer)
  • Orconectes limosus (Spiny-cheek Crayfish)
  • Pacifastacus leniusculus (Signal Crayfish)
  • Procambarus clarkii (Red Swamp Crayfish) 
  • Procambarus spp(Marbled Crayfish) 
  • Strix aluco (Tawny Owl)
  • Sus scrofa (Wild Boar)
  • Tamias sibiricus (Siberian Chipmunk)

Plants

  • Allium triquetrum (Three-cornered Leek)
  • Aponogeton distachyos (Cape Pondweed)
  • Azolla filiculoides (Water Fern)
  • Crassula helmsii (Australian Swamp Stonecrop)
  • Egeria densa (Large-flowered Waterweed)
  • Elodea canadensis (Canadian Pondweed)
  • Elodea nuttallii (Nuttall’s Pondweed)
  • Gunnera manicata (Brazilian Giant-rhubarb)
  • Gunnera tinctoria (Giant-Rhubarb)
  • Hyacinthoides hispanica (including H. non-scripta x H. hispanica) (Spanish Bluebell)
  • Hydrocotyle ranunculoides (Floating Pennywort)
  • Impatiens glandulifera (Himalayan Balsam)
  • Juncus planifolius (Broad-leaved Rush)
  • Lagarosiphon major (Curly-leaved Waterweed)
  • Ludwigia (L. grandiflora, L. peploides and L. hexapetala) (Water-primrose)
  • Lysichiton americanus (American Skunk-cabbage)
  • Myriophyllum aquaticum (Parrots Feather)
  • Nymphoides peltata (Fringed Water-lily)
  • Persicaria perfoliata (Mile-a-minute Weed)
  • Pistia stratiotes (Water Lettuce)
  • Rhododendron ponticum  (including R. x superponticum) (Rhododendron)
  • Rubus spectabilis (Salmonberry)

The following risk assessments will be available for comment shortly:

  • Carpobrotus edulis  (Hottentot-fig)
  • Hippophae rhamnoides (Sea-buckthorn)

Regards,

The Non-native Species Project Team.

Biodiversity Recording App Released

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Today, August 13th, 2014, Compass Informatics with the National Biodiversity Data Centre announces the release of a new app for biodiversity and species recording.  Available at no cost for Android and Apple phone.

A new biodiversity app for smartphones means that casual and professional nature watchers can contribute to the building of the national information resource on our environment.  Compass Informatics, a Dublin-based information and location technologies company, have designed a mobile app that is easy to use and allows the recording of a photo, a location, and details of species, with upload to the data management and mapping system of the National Biodiversity Data Centre for Ireland.  The National Biodiversity Data Centre is also the national node for the worldwide data collection that is the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (gbif.org) and so the humble records captured by the app users ultimately go global.

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The complexity involved in proper species recording is very well-hidden in the app, with ease of use a first objective, but behind the scenes a taxonomic dictionary of species names ensures the records collected are suited to use in the national and global information collection.  The app developers have also used an approach that means the app works across different phone types without special IT development.

The biodiversity app is another part of the information management infrastructure that is provided by the National Biodiversity Data Centre – which is itself an initiative of the Heritage Council and funded by the Council with the Department of Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht.  The Centre is operated by Compass Informatics and its team of expert ecologists and IT and data specialists.  The Centre’s website at www.biodiversityireland.ie includes a mapping system for viewing of species distribution across both land and sea, and explanatory data on the distribution of the species records over months of the year – useful for species such as butterflies; and over the years – useful for understanding movements of species such as red and grey squirrels.

There is no better way to test a new tool such as the biodiversity app than its active use in the field, in hail, rain, or shine – and so the Centre’s director, Liam Lysaght, is making active use of the app in his Wild Ireland Tour (WildIrelandTour.ie) cycle around Ireland.  Over his 3,200km cycle he will capture species records using the app and hopes that records for each of his ten bucket list species will be in there too. See Liam’s list that goes from the massive Basking Shark to the smaller but equally intriguing Humming-Bird Hawk Moth.

For further information contact Gearóid Ó Riain, Managing Director (goriain@compass.ie, tel +353 1 2104580, mobile +353 87 2902343).

Technical note: The app has been developed by Compass Informatics developers with expert ecologists, and uses .Net coding in Xamarin (xamarin.com) for efficient cross device app development and support.  In other words we develop once for all phones rather than develop separately for each.

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Wild Ireland Tour – Celebrating Ireland’s Wildlife

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Wild Ireland Tour

Follow Dr. Liam Lysaght, director of the National Biodiversity Data Centre as he cycles around Ireland visiting some of Ireland’s special wildlife sites in the name of highlighting conservation. For all the latest updates, live maps and live species sightings go to www.wildirelandtour.ie.

Notification of Second Round of Public Consultation on Non-native Species Risk Assessments

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Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and the National Biodiversity Data Centre (Data Centre) have been tasked by the National Parks and Wildlife Service to undertake risk assessments on certain non-native species listed in the Third Schedule to the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 (SI 477/2011; http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/2011/en/si/0477.html). The risk assessments provide evidence-based knowledge that will be used by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in the implementation of Regulations 49, 50 and 74. These regulations are concerned with the prohibition on the introduction, dispersal, trading and keeping of certain non-native species and associated licensing requirements that may apply.

Each risk assessment completed (refer to list below) has undergone an internal review and an external expert review and is now available for stakeholder and public consultation on the project website www.nonnativespecies.ie. As such, we invite any interested parties to make submissions on these completed risk assessments which are available for comment for a two-week period after publication.

Additional information on the Non-native Species Risk Assessment Project can be found on the project website www.nonnativespecies.ie . Guidance information on the licensing requirements can be viewed at http://nonnativespecies.ie/notices-and-documentation/

The following risk assessments are now available for comment until the 06/08/2014:

  • Allium triquetrum (Three-cornered Leek)
  • Corbicula fluminea (Asian Clam)
  • Egeria densa (Large-flowered Waterweed)
  • Hydrocotyle ranunculoides (Floating Pennywort)
  • Impatiens glandulifera (Himalayan Balsam)
  • Ludwigia spp. (Water Primroses)
  • Lysichiton americanus (American Skunk-cabbage)
  • Myriophyllum aquaticum (Parrot’s Feather)

The following risk assessments will be available for comment shortly:

  • Carpobrotus edulis (Hottentot-fig)
  • Elodea canadensis (Canadian Pondweed)
  • Hippophae rhamnoides (Sea-buckthorn)
  • Juncus planifolius (Broad-leaved Rush)
  • Hyacinthoides hispanica (including H. non-scripta x H. hispanica) (Spanish Bluebell)
  • Persicaria perfoliata (Mile-a-minute Weed)
  • Rubus spectabilis (Salmonberry)

 

Regards,

 

The Non-native Species Project Team