Research Projects

Julien Carlier

Current PhD Student

Sustainable development of greenways: improving their function as ecological networks and corridors.

European Greenway developments typically upcycle disused transport corridors for multi-use, non- motorised public infrastructure, and are often considered sustainable transport projects. Prior to development, disused corridors are frequently regained by wildlife; their linear and relatively undisturbed nature means many are functioning as high quality ecological corridors. The sustainable integration of the public infrastructure and ecological corridor roles of Greenways requires consideration during design, development and maintenance stages, taking into account the surrounding landscape composition and condition. This research investigates the ecological connectivity that Greenways can provide, piloted on the international Sligo, Leitrim, and Northern Counties Railway (SLNCR) Greenway project in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (United Kingdom). A 70km2 high resolution habitat map is digitised along the length of the route using remote sensing and Google StreetView imagery, which is then ground-truthed and accuracy assessed. The mapping illustrates a dominance of semi natural grassland and woodland habitats, interspersed by land use intensification. The habitat data is analysed using Morphological Spatial Pattern Analysis (MSPA) to determine the structural connectivity of the ecosystems occurring within the study area. Resulting data from MSPA is then combined with corresponding spatial habitat data and multivariate classification analysis is used to determine the main landscape types based on land cover and ecosystem structural connectivity. Finally, probabilistic functional connectivity analysis is calculated using the Probability of Connectivity (PC) index and indicator species dispersal data. Bat activity is recorded along the route and analysed to determine bat activity for the range of ecosystems. Using graph theory, the bat species potential dispersal between spatial woodland features is modelled and connectivity metrics are calculated, informing the Greenways potential corridor function. Individual habitat features critical for connectivity are also identified, enabling the identification of zones along the route that are potentially highly sensitive to further fragmentation. With consideration to such structural and functional connectivity data, recommendations can be made for Greenway design, development and maintenance to optimise habitat linkage along and throughout their routes, contributing towards their realisation as sustainable transport projects.


• The Greenway Forward for Tourism, Health & Sport 2014 (Dundalk Chamber);
• Environ 2015 (Athlone Institute of Technology);
• Environ 2016 (University of Limerick);
• EAI 2016 (Athlone Institute of Technology);
• Environ 2017 (Athlone Institute of Technology)
• IUFRO 2017 (University of Freiburg, Germany)
• 9th Irish Bat Conference (Leopardstown, Dublin)
• Environ 2018 (Cork Institute of Technology)


• Sligo County Council
• Leitrim County Council
• Cavan County Council
• Fermanagh District Council
• SLNCR Voluntary Community Working Group
• European Greenways Association
• Direction générale opérationnelle routes et bâtiments (DGO1- Wallonia)
• Joint Research Centre (EC)
• Bat Conservation Ireland