Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-2021

Objective 1 – Carry out all works in line with best practice guidelines and relevant legislation across all Bord na Móna Bogs

This objective underpins all of the other objectives outlined in the Bord na Móna Biodiversity Action Plan. Bord na Móna is a diverse company and in relation to the environment, there are a number of legislative regulatory mechanisms that Bord na Móna adheres to.

The primary regulation mechanism relating to the environment and in particular peat harvesting activities is Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) licensing. IPC licensing is granted, implemented and monitored for compliance by the EPA. It is noted however that at the time of writing (March 2016) the regulation of peat harvesting activities is under review by the Department of Environment and Local Government.

There are also a number of areas regulated under Waste Licensing (such as Srahmore Peat Deposition Area and Associated facilities, Drehid Landfill, Kilberry Composting Facility) and conditions related to planning under the Planning and Development Act (such as Mountlucas and Bruckana Wind Farms). Compliance with regulatory mechanisms is reviewed and monitored by the EPA and the relevant planning authorities.

In the period 2010-2015 a number of research projects that focused on developing best practice for management and regulation of activities on peatlands were completed. This included the EPA BOGLAND project (results published in 2011) and a suite of Greenhouse Gas monitoring projects. These projects informed the development of policy documents relating to peatlands. One of the more significant developments in the area of policy has been the development of the National Peatlands Strategy. Another area which has grown is the integration of the concepts of Natural Capital and Ecosystem Goods and Services. Bord na Móna participated in and contributed to all of these projects and policy documents and initiatives and will continue to contribute to their implementation

Key Performance Indicators

Some of the key performance indicators in the period 2010-2015 were:

  • Founding member of the Irish Forum on Natural Capital and member of the IFNC steering committee (2014 to present)
  • Member of the EU Business and Biodiversity (B@B) platform (2015 to present) and the Irish business network Business in the Community (BITC)
  • Direct input to the National Peatland Strategy and members of the Peatlands Council and Peatland Strategy Implementation Group (PSIG)
  • Direct ongoing involvement in the National Raised Bog Scientific Review Steering Committee (2012 to present)
  • Direct input to the development of the National Biodiversity Action Plan 2011-2016
  • Participation in BirdWatch Ireland Action Plans for Raised Bog Birds 2011-2020 and Upland Birds 2011-2020 and support for the development of BirdWatch Ireland Bird Sensitivity Map for Wind Farm Developments (2015)
  • Direct input to the National Pollinator Plan co-ordinated by the National Biodiversity Data Centre (launched in September 2015)
  • Direct input of Ecology Team to planning applications for a range of Bord na Móna developments including Oweninny, Mountlucas and Bruckana wind farms (design and mitigation)
  • Facilitation of discussions and development of the International Peatland Society Strategy on Responsible Peatland Management
  • Direct input to the BOGLAND project (vegetation survey and qualitative assessment of BOGLAND
    project sites)
  • Compliance with IPC licensing and regulation

Building on this work the following actions can be outlined for the period 2016-2021. Note: New Actions to the Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-2021 plan period are highlighted in green shading throughout.

Ensure responsible environmental management in terms of operational aspects of all Bord na Móna businesses

Actions

  • Ensure organisational awareness of changes and developments in relevant policies and strategies, in particular those arising from the outcome of the National Peatland Strategy and the Irish Forum on Natural Capital
  • Further encourage best practice within Bord na Móna in terms of all aspects of the environment, from ongoing operations to future developments. This will require continued awareness of relevant environmental legislation: including EIA and SEA Directives, Habitats and Birds Directives, Water Framework Directive and other such instruments of Irish legislation such as Planning and Development Act 2010
  • Ensure responsible environmental management in terms of operational aspects of all Bord na Móna businesses through continuation of best practice in terms of IPC Licensing (and future regulatory mechanisms as they are developed in coming years) and other similar instruments such as Waste Licenses and Waste Permits

These actions will require ongoing work including:

  • Continue to deliver on actions set out in the National Peatland Strategy through working on the Peatland Strategy Implementation Group and the National Raised Bog Scientific Review steering committee
  • Work with the Irish Forum on Natural Capital to promote accounting of ecosystem goods and services as part of an EU wide approach
  • Develop a natural capital accounting system for Bord na Móna
  • Continue to work with business and biodiversity initiatives such as the EU B@B and Business in the Community to promote good practices in relation to biodiversity at corporate levels
  • Continue to work with other initiatives such as the National Biodiversity Action Plan (currently under review) to ensure integrated planning for Bord na Móna biodiversity focus areas
  • Track developments in national and international policies relating to biodiversity and peatlands in general; interact with relevant bodies and interest groups to share knowledge and contribute to policy development
  • Provide input to any planning applications for developments within Bord na Móna bogs by contributing data and/or providing advice on best practice in terms of rehabilitation, biodiversity management and conservation
  • Contribute updates on rehabilitation and biodiversity projects to Annual Environmental Reports on IPC Licenses to the EPA
Left: Basil thyme growing next to the railway line at Ballycon Bog. Right: The cutaway bogs are home to a wide diversity of spiders and other creepy crawlies.

Left: Basil thyme growing next to the railway line at Ballycon Bog. Right: The cutaway bogs are home to a wide diversity of spiders and other creepy crawlies.

Key Indicators of Success

  • Awareness and compliance with relevant legislation and policy documents into daily operations
  • Increased awareness of the value of peatlands nationally and the benefits of investing in peatland natural capital as part of Bord na Móna’s ongoing contributions in terms of restoration and rehabilitation
  • Good design and planning of proposed developments followed by implementation for Bord na Móna bogs in terms of biodiversity
  • Facilitation of ongoing core businesses and other proposed projects through continued responsible management and compliance with environmental regulatory mechanisms, present and future
Bord na Móna Ecology Team talking to delegates of the Natural Capital Conference in April 2014 about the value of peatlands.

Bord na Móna Ecology Team talking to delegates of the Natural Capital Conference in April 2014 about the value of peatlands.

Natural Capital, the economics of Nature and the Irish Forum on Natural Capital (IFNC)

Natural Capital: An Introduction

Natural capital is the world’s stocks of physical and biological resources, including air, water, minerals, soils, fossil fuels and all living things. These stocks work together to deliver ecosystem goods and services that in turn provide benefits to society. These benefits include harvestable products like food, materials and fuel, clean water for people to drink and for industry to use, purified air to breathe, the natural decomposition of wastes, the conservation and recycling of essential nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, medicine, pest control, pollination, flood and drought regulation and beautiful places to visit. These services matter to people because they give us things we need. But because they are ‘free’, we don’t value them in the same way we value things we have to pay for.

Natural Capital Accounting: Making Nature Count

A rapidly-evolving method for addressing the economic invisibility of nature is ‘natural capital accounting’. This involves attributing a measurable value to our natural capital in economic terms (such as euros or dollars) and/or in ecological terms (such as the number of species in an area). Natural capital accounting is something that all EU member States have to do by 2020 (Source: EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020), and in Ireland the process is already underway through the Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystem Services (MAES) project.

The Irish Forum on Natural Capital

The Irish Forum on Natural Capital (IFNC) brings together a diverse range of organisations and individuals from academic, public, private and NGO sectors who are interested in the development and application of the natural capital agenda in Ireland. The Forum is structured as a broad representative group, led by a Steering Committee and administered by a Secretariat.

The IFNC emerged through the work of the Natural Capital Committee, a voluntary group that came together to organise Ireland’s Hidden Wealth – the first national conference on natural capital, held at the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin, in April 2014. Further meetings and workshops were held in 2015 for members to input to the work plan for the forum.

The IFNC vision is “for an Ireland in which natural capital and ecosystem goods and services are valued, protected and restored”.

The IFNC mission is, “through the collaboration and leadership of our diverse members, to help to value, protect and restore Ireland’s natural capital and ecosystem services. We will do this by supporting the adoption of natural capital concepts in public policy and corporate strategy, promoting informed public and private sector decision-making and assisting in the establishment of a national natural capital accounting standard”.

Bord na Móna is one of the founding members of the Natural Capital movement in Ireland and sits on the steering committee of the IFNC. The key actions
relating to Natural Capital listed in this plan are:

  • Develop a natural capital accounting system for Bord na Móna – to be based on the protocol currently being developed by the Natural Capital Coalition
  • Develop a map of the ecosystem goods and services of Bord na Móna lands
  • Continue to work as part of the Irish Forum on Natural Capital steering committee

For more information see: www.naturalcapitalireland.com and www.naturalcapitalcoalition.org