The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) has called for greater prioritisation of wildlife protection in its submission to the draft National Biodiversity Action Plan. This is the third such plan and this is destined to fail, just like the previous two, if lack of political interest is not squarely addressed. It is welcome that the draft plan acknowledges the chronic decline in wildlife across our land and sea, leaving communities poorer as our natural heritage is degraded. However, generating yet another plan with broadly similar objectives and goals to those that preceded it, and with new, arbitrarily generated target dates is surely a meaningless exercise if we cannot get to the heart of why our beleaguered natural heritage continues to disappear before our eyes.
The IWT suggests that it is a fundamental lack of political will which hampers progress, a feckless disinterest among politicians who routinely see our natural environment as little better than wallpaper or the backdrop to a photo opportunity. The case has yet to be made at a senior level that the declining fortunes of our wildlife coincides with the decline in rural and coastal communities and is leading to the degradation of the Irish landscape and environment, no doubt our most important assets. A case in point is the Hen Harrier (a bird of prey), where ample data on the bird’s status and ecology, and the availability of substantial funding from the Rural Development Plan to help landowners in protected areas have failed to prevent drastic declines in population – something which can be squarely blamed on a lack of engagement by successive ministers for agriculture and heritage.
IWT campaigns officer Pádraic Fogarty says “we have to ask ourselves what is the point is spending time drafting more plans with randomly chosen targets if we are failing in the central task to stop the ongoing loss of nature in Ireland. Unless we can get politicians to speak about nature like it was just as important as health or education we will be destined to continue on our destructive path.”
In our submission to the draft plan, the IWT has called for a smaller document, with fewer, more realistic targets. Among those should be the reform and adequate funding of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, a push against ‘greenwashing’ of agricultural and marine plans, and meaningful plans to reverse damage in our most protected areas, such as national parks.
CONTACT: Padraic Fogarty – IWT’s Campaigns Officer – firstname.lastname@example.org