Marsh Fritillary Information
You may be aware from
recent press reports that the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has decided to embark on a
limited survey of Marsh Fritillary in Ireland, in partial fulfilment of national
obligations under the Habitats Directive. A contract to carry out a survey has
been advertised on www.etenders.gov.ie
. You may find details on this website and you can register, without obligation,
and obtain further information. However, you should note that the period
available to submit a tender is unusually, if not extraordinarily, short. So act
quickly if you want the contract!
Disinformation has been spread with
regard to the DNFC and its butterfly database (‘Butterfly Ireland’) which
contains the information collected by you the Recorders.
So, we would like to set the record
straight in this regard. It is indeed true that DNFC has not made YOUR RECORDS
available to the NPWS. Butterfly Conservation (UK) has been given access
to use information on a 10 km basis only as agreed c.1997. This 10 km
information is in the public domain on our website!
DNFC was indeed approached by the
and requested to make available records on the Marsh Fritillary in its National
Database. At meetings with the NPWS, we expressed our concerns about the
vulnerability of Recorders and DNFC, with regard to possible legal action by
landowners who might pursue either/both for trespass or seek damages, if they
were as a consequence restricted in the management of their property etc. We
asked the NPWS for clarification as to whether or not there was any way of
protecting the identity of Recorders if this information was released or if
there was any mechanism for indemnification. This is an issue of which the NPWS
has been aware for longer than a decade. In addition, we sought reassurance that
the information would not be released for the commercial benefit of others. Our
sense of this meeting was that our concerns were of little interest to the NPWS.
Our concerns, summarised above have not
been addressed or responded to at all, although the first official meeting took
place in August 2010. We did not even obtain clarification as to precisely what
detail was requested! Although indirectly and implicitly, it appears that
information being sought was at a higher resolution than 1 km. At the end
of March we received a letter from the NPWS, WITHDRAWING ITS REQUEST FOR DATA
and stating inter alia that, since
we had not cooperated, the NBDC would be setting up an alternative butterfly
recording scheme [to duplicate Butterfly Ireland]. Unfortunately, the contents
of this letter are of such a tone and nature that we feel that we should not
release it to you.
After the receipt of this letter, we
sought and were granted a meeting with the NPWS at a senior level. This meeting
was held in early April, but to date no response has been received in
relation to matters raised.
We did offer to explore ways in which it
might be possible to assist the NPWS in its statutory duties.
We have not been in a position to
consult you about the possible release of your records, since we were unable to
receive the necessary clarifications from the NPWS. We know from discussions
with a small number of Recorders that some would be extremely unhappy at
releasing records at a resolution finer than 1 km and that such a happening
would most likely result in an end to access to many sites. We also understand
that MothsIreland has not facilitated the release of information on a resolution
greater than 1 km to the NBDC.
As stated above the NPWS has withdrawn
its request to DNFC for data. However, as a Recorder, you may personally wish to
supply your Marsh Fritillary data to the NPWS, “In the National Interest”.
If so, then please do so directly. Its address is Ely Place, Dublin 2, Our
advice to you, in the absence of any reassurance to the contrary, is that once you
have released this infomation it is effectively in the public domain and anyone
can request it and receive a copy of it. So you possibly could be vulnerable if
you did not obtain the landowners permission for access.
In the meanwhile, DNFC is containing its butterfly recording and all records continue to be most welcome. It has been an extremely early season and when the VIPs have all gone the current weather should improve!