Science & Technology in Action

11th Edition

Ecology and Social Responsibility

Iarnrod Eireann

When carrying out project or maintenance works on the railways it is important to conduct ecological surveys beforehand in order to plan correctly and assign appropriate mitigation measures. Quantitative, qualitative or semi quantitative surveys set a baseline indicator of biodiversity in specific localised areas.
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Contains the full lesson along with a supporting toolkit, including teachers’ notes.

Lesson excerpt

Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate Social Responsibility is becoming an important part of a business’s interaction with the local community and environmental aspects play a focal part within this interaction. In recent years biodiversity has become an aspect which both communities and businesses are beginning to recognise as playing an important role in providing important ecosystem services such as water, food, fuel and nutrient cycling. Biodiversity is a measure of the variety of organisms present in different ecosystems. This can refer to 

  • genetic variation, 
  • ecosystem variation, or 
  • species variation (number of species) within an area, biome, or planet. 

As Ireland’s national rail Infrastructure body, Irish Rail recognises the significance of maintaining and enhancing biodiversity for future generations. The railway network in Ireland stretches over 2000 km across the four provinces of the country, passing through a diverse network of habitats and landscapes including rivers, coastal areas, peat lands, wetlands, semi natural grasslands and estuaries.

Railway maintenance projects within sensitive environments
Bridges, culverts and viaducts are some of the railways most distinctive and recognisable assets with many occurring within or near sensitive habitats. When carrying out project or maintenance works within these areas it is important to conduct ecological surveys beforehand in order to plan correctly and assign appropriate mitigation measures. A preliminary ecological survey may take the form of a quantitative/ qualitative or semi quantitative survey in order to establish a baseline indicator of biodiversity in specific localised areas. 

Quiz questions

  1. The railway network in Ireland stretches over 2000 kilometres. true
  2. Ecological surveys are only carried out after changes have been made to the rail infrastructure. false
  3. Electrofishing kills fish and other aquatic animals. false
  4. Insects are the main pollinators in Ireland. true
  5. Optical weed spraying targets only specific plants. true
  6. Railways and railway embankments act as pollinator highways. true
  7. A healthy ecosystem generally has a high biodiversity index. true
  8. A crayfish is a type of fish found in freshwater. false
  9. A riparian habitat is a woodland. false
  10. Rock armour is used to protect river banks from erosion. true