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Biodiversity Training Seminar

October 9, 2010 3 comments

Today, I attended a Biodiversity Training Seminar organised by An Taisce, the national trust for Ireland. I had seen this advertised some time ago, on the ESAI (Environmental Sciences Association of Ireland) listserv, I had joined in before I left for Dublin. The subject and programme content had interested me and therefore I had signed up. In particular I saw this as an opportunity to understand better the Environmental Agencies of Ireland.

The day was fully packed. Three Sessions and a Field Trip were organised. The first session concerned ‘Irish Ecosystem Services’. Three presenters from different backgrounds described how different ecosystems provide numerous services to humankind. This session was not as technical as the following sessions were. However it gave a good introduction to the subject.

This was followed by four presenters in the area of ‘Plans, Strategies, and Legal Instruments’. I really found this session of great interest to me, as it allowed me to understand better the way that different entities in the Irish environmental sphere act. In addition I learnt a lot about the legal frameworks of importance and how these are applied in an Irish context.

The final session was about ‘Information Sources’. Three different presenters explained the best ways of finding and accessing data which is available. The presentation by Sinead O’Brien, from SWAN (Sustainable Water Network) was of particular relevance to my studies. This is because it dealt with accessing water quality data of Irish relevance, in particular in relation to the Water Framework Directive.

In the afternoon, we could choose to go to one of two different field trips. I took the Dublin Bay SPA fied trip, where Siobhan Egan from Birdwatch Ireland and a representative of Coastwatch Ireland explained the different aspects of this site, and the particular challenges faced with the site designation.

First up we went to the mud flats at Dublin Bay, and Siobhan Egan from Birdwatch Ireland explained about the issues related to SPA designation at the site. Another member from Birdwatch Ireland also joined with her telescope to explain about the overwintering birds that were visible.

Dublin Bay Mud Flats

Dublin Bay Mud Flats

After this, we went to Booterstown in Dublin, a bit farther along the coast. The Coast Watch Ireland member explained about the biodiversity we could see along the mud flats. She could recognise the different organisms and shells we found lying along the shore. At the moment the highest spring tides are currently present, and therefore a considerable amount of debris could be seen. She also explained about the issues related to designation, and the concerns they have related to the designation of the site in relation to changes in habitats and their description within the water framework directive.

I am sure that I will make good use of the information gained today at this seminar in my studies. The seminar gave all of us participants an overload of information. nevertheless, it was provided in a manageable way. The presentations were of only 15 minutes, which I found useful. This is because we managed to get a good overview of the various different aspects of biodiversity from the relevant legislation, to their application and how the data collected can be accessed. In addition, the field trips allowed us to see the various considerations in action.

I must congratulate An Taisce, for a wonderful seminar, and I will certainly be back for another event organised by them.

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