Under the EC Habitats Directive the member states are obliged to establish, and periodically monitor, the species and habitats detailed within Annex I and II to ensure the maintenance of favourable site condition.

This obligation extends beyond the Natura 2000 network to include other significant sites of conservation interest (e.g. ASSIs) and, within the freshwater environment, also encompasses the EU Water Framework Directive which requires determination and monitoring of the ecological status of surface waters. The extent and diversity of freshwaters and their associated wetland habitats in Northern Ireland gives them a key role in the conservation status of the region. This project is the second phase of a monitoring programme which ENSIS undertook for DoE(NI) EHS between 2006 and 2008.

Objectives:

The primary objective of this project is to collect and analyse biological and physical data from both designated and undesignated standing water sites in Northern Ireland using the Common Standards Monitoring (CSM) methodologies. The resultant CSM survey data are to be used to assess current site condition and where necessary inform site management to ensure favourable conditions are maintained or to bring features back to favourable status where notable habitats or species have declined. ENSIS will complete this work in September 2015.

Methods:

A number of non-designated standing water bodies representative of the EU Habitats Directive Annex 1 types were identified and CSM surveys of aquatic macrophytes were undertaken at these suites.

CSM surveys were also undertaken at designated Natura 2000 and ASSI standing water bodies (as listed in Annex 4 of the Conditions of Contract Services). Quarterly water samples were taken and analysed from all lake sites.

Detailed site condition assessment reports for all sites are ongoing and these include management recommendations, where this is deemed necessary. Water Framework Directive data will be collated and integrated in the reports to extend the scope of the CSM reporting.

A final overview report on completion of the surveys will include draft Article 17 reports in appropriate database formats on each of the four Habitats Directive Annex I lake types as detailed in Annex 3 of the Conditions of Contract Service. All datasets will be incorporated into the Natural Heritage Lake Access Database

Results:

The project is still ongoing with the final macrophyte survey completed in 2015. Results will be summarised here in due course.

Castle Lough 1
Castle Lough