Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.04
Liaison Thomas Adams
Submission Date July 30, 2021

STARS v2.2

National University of Ireland, Galway
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Caitriona Carlin
Postdoctoral Researcher
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution own or manage land that includes or is adjacent to legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, or regions of conservation importance?:

A brief description of the legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance:

At EU level: Lough Corrib Special Protection Area (SPA) and Lough Corrib Special Area of Conservation (SAC). Both designations form part of EU Natura network.

Further information available: https://www.npws.ie/sites/default/files/protected-sites/synopsis/SY000297.pdf

Has the institution conducted an assessment to identify endangered and vulnerable species (including migratory species) with habitats on land owned or managed by the institution?:

A list of endangered and vulnerable species with habitats on land owned or managed by the institution, by level of extinction risk:

In 2019, National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) carried out an assessment of the conservation status of protected species, as part of the 6 yearly Habitats Directive monitoring, lesser horseshoe bats in Ireland was considered: Unfavourable-Inadequate and declining; Otter is favourable, and improving. NPWS conservation assessment report 2019.

We haven't undertaken any specific assessment on the campus as a whole specifically to identify endangered and vulnerable species but there have been 2 bioblitz events where staff and students and members of the public including experts conducted at 24 hours survey to record everything they found within that time period (2014, 2015). We found rare mosses, rare bats, otter and over 500 other species. At other times, we found unusual snails (listen to the section of the biodiversity trail podcast, where Dr Aidan O’Hanlon is talking) and a rare butterfly breeding on campus – this is the brown hairstreak butterfly. In addition, our proximity to Lough Corrib SAC and SAC (and the fact that site boundaries also overlap with part of the campus), means that for any development purposes, the site and proposal are screened through appropriate assessment processes (implementation of Habitats Directive, to ensure no activity has a negative impact on the status of a protected site).

Has the institution conducted an assessment to identify areas of biodiversity importance on land owned or managed by the institution?:

A brief description of areas of biodiversity importance on land owned or managed by the institution:

To a certain extent, yes. Staff and students have surveyed main campus grounds for rare fungi (please contact Maria Tuohy as she and her students mapped areas of fungal importance.) From standard habitat mapping and identification activities by staff, students and consultants, we know that there are areas of species rich grassland, reedbeds, wet woodland all along the river Corrib corridor.

There are also areas of biodiversity safeguarded from further development, such as that in Dangan, adjacent the proposed student accommodation block. This is a mix of calcareous grassland, scrub and wet temporary pools. This area is important for bats, terrestrial mammals, birds, plants including orchids and mosses, beetles, various insects, including pollinators. This also includes several species of butterfly (see reference to brown hairstreak butterfly below).

The methodologies used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or areas of biodiversity importance and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:

MKO consultants carried out ecological assessments including screening for appropriate assessment on behalf of NUIG. They developed a biodiversity management plan for the biodiversity area north of student accommodation development 2, at Dangan. This sets out yearly actions which will be monitored and reviewed by the college, consultants and environmental science staff and students.

NUIG has drafted a campus wide Biodiversity Action Plan. This is a 5 year plan starting 2021-2025. This sets out actions to safeguard biodiversity on campus and includes the above actions. It is in final draft form having incorporated changes from buildings and estates staff.

NUIG has signed up to the All Ireland Pollinator Plan, and as part of that, developed and put in place a pollinator plan for NUIG. This means that NUIG implements actions such as mowing some areas only once or twice a year, while other areas are mowed on a 6 week basis, and others are mowed more regularly. There are also other actions in NUIG pollinator plan such as perennial planting etc.

A brief description of the scope of the assessment(s):

Staff and students in Botany, Environmental Science, Geography and Zoology and the associated postgraduate programmes carry out annual surveys of the grounds. These are often focussed in Dangan area and along the river walk, so it would not cover the entire campus. This usually entails recognised survey techniques such as mapping habitats according to national standard classification systems, and internationally recognised assessment techniques such as camera traps, pitfall traps, hair tubes and longworth traps. Staff have also carried out specific surveys for rare butterflies such as the brown hairstreak butterfly which to date is known to be restricted to the Burren area. However staff at NUIG and GMIT have published a paper that extends its range into Mayo.

A brief description of the plans or programs in place to protect or positively affect identified species, habitats, and/or ecosystems:

This butterfly is best surveyed for through egg searches, as the animal itself is seldom seen, spending most of the day in tall trees. Females lay eggs that overwinter on young blackthorn. Egg surveys are timed searches of young blackthorn branches. The eggs were first located in NUIG in 2019. Habitat management plans include sensitive management of blackthorn to ensure there is always young blackthorn in suitable aspect. In addition the college employs ecological consultants to survey and make recommendations regarding future developments and safeguarding the nature conservation value of the campus.

Estimated percentage of areas of biodiversity importance that are also protected areas :

Website URL where information about the institution’s biodiversity initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

NUI Galway is an All-Ireland Pollinator Plan Partner and have developed the NUI Galway Pollinator Plan 2018-2020 to help create a campus environment where pollinators can thrive. - https://pollinators.ie/partners/

NUI Galway is committed to enhancing student and staff awareness of biodiversity on campus and have produced a Biodiversity Trail to help promote the campus as an educational and recreational resource. - http://www.nuigalway.ie/biodiversitytrail/

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.