Written answers

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

National Biodiversity Plan

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Leader of the Opposition; Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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113. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the actions he has taken to support biodiversity data collection. [26685/21]

Photo of Malcolm NoonanMalcolm Noonan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Green Party)
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The collection of data relating to biodiversity and nature underpins much of the work of my Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service, particularly its Scientific Unit.

This work is formally set out in Objective 2 of the National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017 - 2021: to strengthen the knowledge base for conservation, management and sustainable use of biodiversity.

The interim review of the Plan, published in February 2020, sets out the progress that has been made on actions related to biodiversity data under this objective. In particular,

Action 2.1.4:Implement common data standards and quality assurance procedures in line with the INSPIRE Directive and ensure that data and mapping on rare, threatened and protected species and habitats are freely available.

My Department works with partners in the Marine Institute, EPA, Heritage Council, NBDC and DPER to further progress this action, including by making datasets available on Biodiversity Maps and on www.marine.ie.

Also, the NPWS is working with my Department's INSPIRE Steering Committee on the publication of INSPIRE data on the Ordnance Survey of Ireland INSPIRE GeoPortal website.

Common data standards in line with the INSPIRE Directive are being coordinated and applied through my Department's INSPIRE Steering Committee. The Irish INSPIRE Geoportal website in OSI has been upgraded and biodiversity data sets are increasingly being published through this coordination channel – contributing to a harmonised, European level view of a number biodiversity related data themes.

Action 2.1.6:to undertake surveys and assessments of status, trends and distribution of all habitats and species of EU interest and additional habitats and species of national and regional importance.

My Department works with a range of partners and stakeholders such as the EPA, IFI, NBDC, Academia and Research Institutions and eNGOs to implement this action. Both Article 17 assessments of the status, trends and distributions of all habitats and species listed on the EU Habitats Directive and the Article 12 report on Birds were submitted to the European Commission and summary overviews published in 2019.

Since 2017 NPWS has commissioned surveys for marine habitats, lagoon, saltmarsh, shingle and associated dunes, raised bog, woodland, plant species, vertigo species, pearl mussel, bats, hare, seals, cetaceans and bird species. The National Biodiversity Data Centre operates five long term monitoring programmes: All-Ireland Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, The Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme, The Marsh Fritillary Monitoring Scheme, Rare Plant Monitoring Scheme and Solitary Bee monitoring scheme.

A copy of the Interim Review of the NBAP can be accessed via the NPWS website on the following link:

Work is currently underway in my Department on developing the next National Biodiversity Action Plan for 2022. This Plan will maintain a strong focus on solid scientific practice and data gathering which is essential to well informed actions for biodiversity and effective implementation of the Plan's objectives in the coming years.

Furthermore, my Department provides funding each year to the Heritage Council for its National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC) programme, established by the Council in 2006 and operated under a contract between the Council and a private company. In 2020, my Department's NPWS provided over €500,000 to the Council for NBDC core funding and other biodiversity data projects including a citizen science plant recording project.

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