BioLogiQ can carry out habitat studies of the flora and fauna of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, as well as specialist botanical, conservation, insect, wetland ecology, and biological water quality studies (Biotic Quality Index surveys).
We can also carry out Screenings for Appropriate Assessments, Natura Impact Statements, hedgerow and invasive species surveys and toolbox talks and training.
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Why is an environmental assessment undertaken?Grainne Whittle2020-12-15T11:52:07+00:00
The EU Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild flora and fauna) provides for the creation of a network of protected sites known as Natura 2000.
These sites include Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) for protected habitats and species and Special Protection Areas for birds (SPAs – under the Birds Directive) which meet specific scientific criteria. The designated sites must be managed to ensure that the following:
- prior assessment of potentially damaging plans and projects,
- a requirement that these plans and projects be approved only if they represent an overriding interest and only if no alternative solution exists,
- measures for providing compensatory habitats in the event of damage,
- generally it is triggered when a development is due to take place within a prescribed distance of a protected habitat.
Assessments are also required where:
- it is anticipated that the planning authority will require information on biodiversity to validate and assess the planning application; or
- the organisation undertaking development wishes to ensure that its obligations under Irish wildlife law are met.
What are environmental assessment tools?Grainne Whittle2020-12-15T11:52:33+00:00
The two fundamental ‘tools’ required to carry out an environmental assessment are:
- the competencies to determine baseline environmental conditions, and
- risk assessments or checklists to evaluate the potential for impact on environmental quality.
Once it has been determined that a development as currently proposed will result in environmental impacts then appropriate mitigatory measures will be proposed for the construction and operational phases.
These may include modifications to the design of the development as well as preservation of valuable habitat present onsite and compensatory measures to create new habitat. mitigation plans to ensure that there is no net environmental.
What are the types of environmental assessment?Grainne Whittle2020-12-15T11:53:08+00:00
Environmental assessments range from comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessments for large-scale developments at one end of the scale to Appropriate Assessment (AA) Screening reports and everything in between.
At the next level up from an AA Screening report is an Appropriate Assessment which requires a more detailed evaluation of specific impacts on an area and there are also specific types of assessment.
BioLogiQ carries out baseline ecological surveys for terrestrial or aquatic habitats to identify the habitats present (e.g. type of bog, meadow, woodland etc.) and the species of flora and fauna found there. This includes AA screening reports and Appropriate Assessments.
We perform Biotic Quality Index (BQI) surveys to determine the water quality of rivers and streams. This is done by identifying and quantifying the macroinvertebrates to be found there and comparing the results against a checklist which classifies the water quality as Q5 (pristine) to Q2/Q1 (heavily polluted). (A macroscopic invertebrate is an aquatic organism such as a crustacean, a mollusc, or an aquatic insect).
We do ecological surveys for the Native Woodland Conservation Scheme to assess the suitability of sites and prepare appropriate restoration management plans in association with an approved forester.
The aim of this scheme is to support the appropriate restoration of existing native woodlands and (where appropriate) the conversion of existing non-native forest to native woodland, in order to promote the restoration of Ireland’s native woodland resource and associated biodiversity.
All bats are protected species and BioLogiQ can carry out bat surveys to determine if they are present in an area or nearby, and how they use the site. Mitigation plans may be required to detail how a development will avoid, reduce or manage any negative effects.
What is the purpose of an environmental assessment?Grainne Whittle2020-12-15T11:53:36+00:00
Environmental assessment can be defined as ‘identifying, estimating, and evaluating the environmental impacts of existing and proposed projects, by conducting environmental studies, to mitigate the relevant negative effects prior to making decisions and commitments.’
To put it another way, an environmental assessment is a study required to establish all the impacts be they positive or negative about a particular development project. The environmental assessment does the following:
- Establishes the baseline environmental conditions e.g. for habitats, noise levels, water quality etc.,
- Identifies possible environmental effects (of the construction work and predicted operations),
- Proposes measures to mitigate any adverse effects.
The overall objective is to achieve no net loss of biodiversity or no net environmental impact. This may require compensatory measures such as creating new areas of habitat e.g. woodland, screening the visual impact of a development by means of tree planting and so forth.