17th July

All-island environmental standards must be safeguarded

Crucial cross-border cooperation to protect the environment across the island of Ireland must not be ‘diluted’ by Brexit, warned MEPs, NGOs and legal experts at a conference (16/6) to examine potential impacts on Ireland’s environment, post Brexit. Potential weakening of legislative protection is seen as the single greatest environmental risk.

Cruit Island

Cruit Island, Co Donegal. Environmental standards for the island of Ireland must be upheld, post Brexit. Photo Gillian Mills  

The importance of ensuring equal status in environmental standards north and south has been recognised at European level. EU Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has highlighted the risk of environmental ‘dumping’ if a divergence of standards between the UK and Member States emerges.

Read more: All-island environmental standards must be safeguarded

BurrenLIFE project scoops major environmental award

BurrenLIFE project has received a 'Best Ever' award (Nature and Biodiversity category) in the 25-year history of the European Commission LIFE progrmame. 

 LIFE Project Burren

Commissioner DG Environment Karmenu Vella presents the Green Award to Dr Brendan Dunford and Dr Sharon Parr for Burren Life Project (2005-2010). Photo Ruairi Ó Chonchúir

In the last 25 years, the programme has helped to reduce human impact on the environment; preserve nature and biodiversity and fight climate change. Fifteen LIFE projects were shortlisted from 4,500 entries as nominees for 'Green Awards'. Nominees were selected by jury based on long-term sustainability; communication potential and broader impact on a national, European and global level, and voted on the public. 

BurrenLIFE (2005-2010)

In the late 1990s, local farmers along with Teagasc, UCD and the National Parks and Wildlife Service agreed on a research project: 'The Impact of Agriculture Practices on the Natural Heritage of the Burren'. It highlighted the important role that farming plays in supporting the rich biodiversity and agricultural heritage of the Burren along with decline in traditional farming systems and the dependent habitats. 

In 2004, the original partners sought funding from the EU LIFE fund to address some of the problems identified and to develop 'A blueprint from the sustainable agricultural management of the Burren'. The BurrenLIFE project (2005-2010) was the first major farming for conservation project in Ireland and one of very few EU projects to place farmers at the centre of the conservation agenda. 

This project paved the way for the Burren Farming Conservation Programme (2010-2015) which currently involves over 300 farmers.

The awards recognise the most outstanding completed LIFE projects since 1992. 

EU economy vulnerability to water scarity and drought

A report by the Water Footprint Network highlights how increasing water scarcity and drought could have on the EU’s economy.

The report: Dependencies of Europe’s Economy On Other Parts of the World in Terms of Water Resources shows that just over a third of the EU’s water demand lies outside its borders because many of the goods consumed by its citizens or businesses are produced abroad.

Water Footprint Network rep


Courtesy of Water Footprint Network

It notes that annually, approximately 668 km3 of water is used by the EU for all of the goods it produces, consumes and exports. And with up to 38% of this water originating beyond EU borders the EU economy is highly dependent on the availability of water in other parts of the world.

Read more: EU economy vulnerability to water scarity and drought

Monitoring juvenile salmon behaviour online

Juvenile salmon from the Black River (a tributary of the River Erriff - the National Salmonid Index Catchment) can now be followed online to determine survival rates during their migration from Ireland to Denmark. 

Inland Fisheries Ireland has launched SMOLTRACK - the EU-funded NASCO counting, tagging and tracking system - involving partners in Northern Ireland (River Bush); England (River Tamar); Spain (River Ulla and River Tea) and Denmark (River Skjern). 

IFI online tool Salmon Smolt

The project will also provide new data that will inform future salmon management and conservation work. 

Traps are used to catch migrating salmon smolts for tagging with minature acoustic transmitters; their migration is then followed via listening stations situated at various locations.

Numbers counted in each system are uploaded each evening to allow stakeholders to follow and compare migration patterns in each country.  The information will also help scientists to understand survival rates in lower parts of rivers, estuaries and coastal areas, as well as providing data on run timing and migration behaviour. 

"We look forward to determining more about smolts...As we are working with partners in Northern  Ireland, England, Spain and Denmark, we can also learn from the data gathered in their regions," remarked Dr Cathal Gallagher, Head of Research and Development, IFI.  

Ireland-Wales project to investigate climate change and coastal heritage

A five-year project stretching from Ireland's east to south coast and along the Welsh coastline will use ‘cutting-edge’ technology to analyse coastal and island archaeology and heritage sites most affected by climate change, coastal erosion, storminess and rising sea levels.

CHERISH Skelligs

A bird's eye view of Little Skellig from Skellig Michael - one of selected sites  

CHERISH (Climate, Heritage and Environments of Reefs, Islands and Headlines) will be led by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, with partners Aberystwyth University, Geological Survey Ireland and the Discovery Programme Centre for Archaeology and Innovation Ireland Centre for Archaeology and Innovation Ireland.

Hydrography; geology; archaeology; built and maritime heritage; remote sensing and environmental science will be employed in the research that will focus on selected headlands and sites including the Saltee Islands Glascarrig Motte (Co Wexford); Skellig Michael (Co Kerry) and the Skerries Islands (Co Dublin), and islands around Pembrokeshire, Cardigan Bay and the Llŷn Peninsula of Wales,

Read more: Ireland-Wales project to investigate climate change and coastal heritage

Hard engineering is not the only answer to managing flood risk

An ecosystem-based approach to managing flood waters that is proving effective across Europe has yet to be accepted in Ireland where policy-makers appear to favour hard engineering as the answer to this growing problem – a new report has found.

Craughwell flooding December 2015

Craughwell, Co Galway, December 2015                                                                 Photo John Conaghan 

Natural Flood Management – Adopting ecosystem approaches to managing flood risk – by environmental policy analyst and broadcaster, Anja Murray, and commissioned by Friends of the Earth, finds that soft engineering - a whole catchment approach to managing soil, wetlands, woodlands and flood plains – can be highly effective by slowing down the flow of water on a catchment wide scale and reducing flood risk.

Read more: Hard engineering is not the only answer to managing flood risk

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Seashore stress from prolonged heatwave
Majority of Ireland's bathing waters are  of high quality
Plan ‘lacks ambition’ to improve Ireland’s water quality
 Never trust the ice beneath your feet