The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) welcomes the announcement in yesterday’s budget that funding for the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has been restored to 2008 levels. This is not only a reflection of the extent of defunding under previous governments but also the increased priority placed on biodiversity by the current administration.
World governments are currently meeting (virtually) for the 15th Conference of Parties (COP) on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This will conclude in May 2022 with an in-person meeting in the Chinese city of Kunming by agreeing a new ‘global framework’ for biodiversity. The deal will be an essential complement to the Paris Climate Agreement and is expected to endorse a goal to protect 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030. Sadly, Minister Malcolm Noonan’s address to the COP earlier today (13/10/21) gave us no clue as to the government’s plan to meet these commitments, or what his broader vision for nature in Ireland is.
Nearly a year and a half into this government, we still have no idea what the plan is to address the biodiversity crisis. Ireland has already signed up to protect 30% of the sea by 2030 although practically no progress towards this has been made. We do not know whether the government supports the idea of protecting 30% of land. While the EU has said it wants 10% of land and sea ‘strictly protected’ (i.e. with no commercial extractive activities), Ireland has made no comment on this target. Certain habitats found in Ireland, such as old woodlands, blanket bogs, marine reefs and seagrass meadows require urgent and strict protection.
In May 2018 the Dáil committed to holding a citizens’ assembly on biodiversity loss however still no date for this has been set.
The Programme for Government committed to an independent review of the NPWS, and while this was carried out earlier this year, it has yet to be published. What’s the delay?
Under the CBD, Ireland must produce periodic Biodiversity Action Plans. Our most recent plan expires at the end of this year and no work has been done with stakeholders on a successor. Are we to have no plan at all in 2022?
IWT campaign officer Pádraic Fogarty says, “We acknowledge that Minister Noonan inherited a much-debilitated NPWS and we thank him for his work in restoring some of its capabilities. However, the ship is still taking on water. We need a clearer vision of how we are going to halt the loss of biodiversity as a matter of urgency while bending the curve towards restoration of ecosystems in the medium to long term. We call on him to set out his plans as a matter of priority.”