Wetlands as a systemic solution to manage land and water quality

Could wetlands provide multiple benefits for the environment and for water quality and what is needed to realise these benefits?


There is rising concern about the need to protect water quality at source, rather than relying on heavy inputs of energy and chemicals downstream for cleaning up abstracted supplies. This, together with a greater emphasis on the value of “natural capital”, calls for more systemic management of land and water, including natural solutions involving wetlands at the land/water interface. Water companies, regulators and landowners are all showing increasing interest in exploring the opportunities offered by natural and created wetlands to deliver benefits using Payment for Ecosystem Services and other novel solutions. 

Living with Environmental Change’s (LWEC) policy and practice note on the topic is now available online at:



Wind Turbines have minor impact on North American small-bird populations

Only about two or three small birds are killed per turbine wind turbines each year for every 225-300 houses supplied with renewable energy, new research suggests. 

The study collated data from 116 US and Canadian studies on 156 species of passerines (small birds). The study suggests some species are affected more than others, but that wind turbines generally have only a minor impact on these small-bird populations.

By contrast, over six million small birds are thought to be killed by communication towers in the US and Canada. Meanwhile, cats are estimated to kill at least 55 million birds each year in the UK alone, although some of these are thought to be weaker birds that would die anyway. 

The researchers also explored evidence for factors thought to contribute to bird collisions. 

The summary report can be obtained from:


while the full report is available to view on-line at:


Pine Martin Guide for Householders


The Vincent Wildlife Trust has published ‘The Pine Marten in Ireland: A guide for householders’.

The pine marten is protected in Ireland by both national and international legislation. Under the Irish Wildlife Acts it is an offence, except under licence, to capture or kill a pine marten, or to destroy or disturb its resting places.

As a result of the scarcity of natural den sites, pine martens may use both inhabited and uninhabited buildings as dens. The guide gives practical information on how to address the problem of what to do if you have an unwanted pine marten house guest. 

The guide can be downloaded at:


County Survey of Wetlands in Louth Completed

The 2014 Louth Wetland Survey III involved a field survey of the outstanding freshwater wetlands in County Louth, with the aim of identifying the specific wetlands and ecological interest of each site.  

The survey completed the 3 year project, funded by Louth County Council and Heritage Council, undertaken in 2011, 2012 and 2014 to map and characterise all wetlands in the county. This makes Louth the second only Irish county with a complete wetland inventory which describes the 308 wetland sites in the county. The wetland map of County Kildare was completed earlier in 2014. 

The sites surveyed in Louth in 2014 had previously been identified as being of potential interest during the County Louth Wetland Survey project prepared in 2012. 

The sites selected for survey were believed to contain notable wetland habitats including transition mire, cutaway bog, fen, marsh and heathland.  

The Louth Wetland Survey III report presents the results of the 2014 field survey and includes detailed site descriptions and habitat maps for the wetlands surveyed.

The 2014 survey information has also been used to update site descriptions, habitat information and photographs on the Wetland Map of Ireland. 

The Wetland Map of Ireland now displays a total of 6,150 sites across the country.

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Map showing the distribution of wetland sites of international (red), national (amber), and county importance (green) wetland sites in County Louth.    

2013 EU Habitats Directive Conservation Assessment Reports - Ireland

A major new report on the status of Ireland's habitats and species (the EU Article 17 report) in 2013 has just been published by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. 

The reports indicates that for a number of wetland habitats including Wet heath, Hydrophilous tall herb, Raised bog (active)*, Degraded raised bogs, Blanket bog (active)*, Transition mires, Cladium fen* and Alkaline fens, the overall conservation assessment in 2013 was found the be Bad. 

In many cases the loss that has occurred in some of these habitats, since the last assessment round in 2007, in particular for fens, cannot be quantified as we still lack accurate data on the national extent and distribution of these important wetland habitats. Considering that the same findings were made in the previous EU conservation Assessment report in 2007, the continuing lack of NPWS data of fens in this report is disappointing. Perhaps it is time the NPWS prioritised the survey of Transition mires, Cladium fen* and Alkaline fens, a research goal promised by the Minister in 2008. 

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The Article 17 reports for Ireland can be accessed on the NPWS website located here.

Prioritised action framework for financing Natura 2000

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, has published Ireland's Prioritised Action Framework under the EU Habitats Directive. This framework, which has been approved by Government, identifies a range of actions needed to help improve the status of Ireland's habitats and wildlife. 

The possible sources of funding for these actions, across the various operational programmes, are also identified. These include short, medium and long term actions, such as conservation management strategies, more focused agri-environment schemes and habitat restoration. 

The Framework has been informed by a major new report on the status of Ireland's habitats and species (the Article 17 report) together with a report on the status of Irish Birds, under Article 12 of the Birds Directive.



© Peter Foss 2012