Press Release: Ireland should aim to protect 30% of our land and sea as part of global efforts to reverse biodiversity loss at COP15

Dec 15

Press Release 

15th December 2022

Ireland should aim to protect 30% of our land and sea as part of global efforts to reverse biodiversity loss at COP15

The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) is calling on the Irish government, represented at the COP15 meeting in Montreal, Canada by Minister for State Malcolm Noonan, to commit Ireland to protecting 30% of land by the end of the decade.

The so-called ‘30×30’ target to protect at least 30% of land and sea by 2030 is among the key aims being debated as part of a hoped-for ‘Paris Agreement’ for nature. Minister Noonan addresses the COP during his stay in Montreal today (Thursday, 15th). Ireland negotiates as part of the EU delegation which has already committed to the 30×30 target but Ireland, which has signed up to a ‘High Ambition Coalition’ led by France and Costa Rica, has yet to sign up to the land-based target (the 30% protection of seas is a goal in the Programme for Government). This is not high ambition in practice.

While 30×30 is only one of a range of targets being agreed in Montreal as part of a ‘Global Biodiversity Framework’, it is a crucially important one – indeed many scientists and activists believe the figure needs to be nearer 50%. Healthy natural ecosystems are essential if we are to stabilise the climate and biodiversity crisis and must be part of a solution alongside farming, fishing and forestry that works with nature.

IWT campaign officer, speaking from Montreal where the IWT is an observer organisation, says “Committing to protecting 30% of land as well as sea could be an enormously popular goal at an all-island level. While we understand that there is nervousness among landowners about new ‘land designations’ this can be countered by the government leading by example – i.e. using public land for new nature reserves – as well as by creating incentives for private landowners and community groups to be chief managers of such areas.

The community-led initiative of Abbeyleix Bog in Co. Laois is an example of what can be achieved. Protected areas are essential tools for reaching our climate and biodiversity goals, e.g. through the protection of peat bogs and native forests as well as coastal and ocean habitats.” However, they must work for people.

Respecting human rights and empowering local landowners and communities is an essential component of the transition to a low-carbon and nature-friendly society. This is reflected in the recent biodiversity report from the Oireachtas Committee on the Environment and Climate Action, which called for Ireland to meet the 30% land target and which also called for “the Irish government to ensure that the achievement of biodiversity targets is done in a way which recognises and protects collective and customary land tenure systems, adopts strong enforceable safeguards for Indigenous Peoples and their human rights and prevents poor practice such as land grabs.”

The IWT fully supports this position. Reaching an agreement to protect the future of life on earth is absolutely critical and we welcome the engagement of Minister Noonan and his team at this conference. 



CONTACT: Padraic Fogarty IWT Campaigns Officer