Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership

On June 24th, Dublin Bay Biosphere received its designation from UNESCO. This designation provides international recognition of the importance of the natural and cultural heritage of Dublin Bay. The new Biosphere was launched on North Bull Island by Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

In our 2014 Sustainability report we spoke about Dublin Port Company signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Dublin City Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Fingal County Council and National Parks and Wildlife Service. The MOU established the Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership. The partnership has been developed with the aim of extending the existing Biosphere designation from the North Bull Island to Dublin Bay with the core areas defined by the Natura 2000 Network. The Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership will oversee the collaborative planning, preparation and implementation of a Strategic Plan to fulfil the principles and aims of UNESCO’s ‘Man and the Biosphere’ programme.

Dublin Port Company is delighted to be part of this programme which will improve education and awareness of the significance of Dublin Bay in terms of natural and cultural heritage; promote the Biosphere Reserve as a destination for sustainable tourism and recreation and develop; and implement a five year conservation works programme for key sites within the Biosphere Reserve.

Birds of Dublin Bay Biosphere Boat Cruise

On June 27th, as part of the programme of events to celebrate the launch of Dublin Bay Biosphere, Dublin Port Company sponsored a guided boat trip with Dublin Bay Cruises. Members of the public, of all ages, were brought through Dublin Port into Dublin Bay. The cruise was fully booked and conditions were perfect. Our guide was Niall Keogh of Birdwatch Ireland and Birdwatch Ireland volunteers assisted the passengers in spotting wildlife. Some highlights included Common and Arctic Terns, Mediterranean Gulls and Manx Shearwaters and spectacular views of the sea cliffs at Howth Head. Donations from the day went to the Save Ireland’s Seabirds Appeal.


An information leaflet and website were developed to coincide with the launch of Dublin Bay Biosphere. The website was subsequently a finalist at the Irish Web Awards in the Best Government and Local Government Website category. The website and the Dublin Bay Biosphere Facebook and Twitter profiles continue to be updated with new content. We currently have 400 followers on social media.

The launch of Dublin Bay Biosphere received extensive media coverage, including a news item on the main national television channel, RTE1, and national newspapers including the Irish Times, the Irish Independent and the Herald as well as local press.

In July, Dublin Bay Biosphere was the subject of two articles in the Irish Times by Paddy Woodworth examining what the designation will deliver for the Bay. Subsequently, Dublin Bay Biosphere has frequently been mentioned in the national press, particularly in articles relating to planning and tourism in Dublin Bay. This coverage has assisted in raising awareness of the UNESCO Biosphere designation and the natural and cultural heritage of Dublin Bay.

Coastwatch Annual Survey

Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership provided logistical, promotional and financial support to the Coastwatch Annual Survey. This is a national Citizen Science project which encourages people to record information about the condition of the coastline. The survey ran from 15th September to 18th October. Dublin City Council issued a press release and hosted a launch event, exhibition and presentation of the survey results. Other members of Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership promoted the survey and provided volunteer surveyors. As a result of this support, the level of participation within the Dublin area was the highest recorded since the Coastwatch Annual Survey began in 1987. Following on from the survey, a bilingual guide to the seashells of Dublin Bay Biosphere was launched on 14th December 2015 by Lord Mayor Críona Ní Dhálaigh.

UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) Network

Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership is building links within the global network of UNESCO Biospheres. It hosted a meeting of the UK MAB Committee on 25th June 2015 and the Biosphere Coordinator attended a meeting of the UK MAB Committee on 17th December 2015. A UK and Ireland MAB Committee will be formed, subject to UNESCO approval. Dublin Bay Biosphere became a member of the World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves. The Biosphere Coordinator attended a UNESCO Training Course for Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves Managers at Jeju Island Biosphere Reserve, Republic of Korea, alongside Biosphere Managers from North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve in Latvia, Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Reserve in Russia, Palawan Biosphere Reserve in the Phillipines, Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, South Africa and the Israeli Planning Administration. Representatives of Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership also attended the EuroMAB 2015 Conference in Estonia and a COBWEB Project meeting and site visit in the Dyfi Biosphere in Wales.

City and County Development Plans

Dublin Bay Biosphere has been incorporated into local government policy instruments. Provisions to support the UNESCO Biosphere Designation and the work of Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership have been included within the Draft Development Plans of Dublin City Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and Fingal County Council, as well as the Biodiversity Action Plan of Dublin City Council.

Fáilte Ireland

On 16th October 2015, Fáilte Ireland launched the new Dublin – A Breath of Fresh Air brand and marketing campaign. The brand seeks to communicate Dublin’s unique position as a vibrant capital city with a variety of experiences and a destination where city living thrives side by side with nature and the outdoors. Fáilte Ireland has agreed to join Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership and to promote Dublin Bay Biosphere as part of this new brand.

Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership Conservation Working Group

The first meeting of the Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership Conservation Working Group was held on September 23rd. This brought the member organisations of Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership together with individuals and NGOs actively working on ecological research and conservation management in Dublin Bay, including Dublin Naturalists’ Field Club, the Irish Seal Sanctuary, Birdwatch Ireland and Coastwatch Ireland. The Dublin Bay Biosphere Conservation Programme will be developed through further consultation with this working group.

Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership Work Plan 2016

Following consultation with key stakeholders, a work plan for 2016 has been agreed by Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership. The priority actions will be the development of a Conservation Programme, Education Programme, Research Strategy and Business Development Plan and the organisation of a Dublin Bay Biosphere conference to be held in October 2016.