The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) welcomes the report from the Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action on Biodiversity
published today (17/11/22). The IWT gave a presentation to committee members during the hearings which took place in 2021. We welcome the overarching conclusion that it is “clear that biodiversity and climate are inextricably linked, and that biodiversity and healthy ecosystems and habitats play a significant role in tackling carbon emissions and slowing climate change”. The report acknowledges the significant loss of biodiversity that Ireland has experienced and in particular we welcome how the pressures on biodiversity loss at sea have been given equal recognition to that on land in their report.
We would particularly like to highlight the following recommendations from the report which the IWT has been campaigning
for some time including:
· Reform of the Arterial Drainage Act which severely affects river systems
· Reduction in bottom trawling and a prohibition on bottom trawling in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
· MPAs should be designated without delay and management plans should be implemented for existing Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) in the marine environment. New MPAs should include ‘highly protected’ areas, i.e. no fishing zones.
· Protection measures for threatened sharks and marine species
· Designation of all old oak woodlands as SACs
· A transition away from monoculture forestry and towards continuous-cover commercial forests
· The protection of biodiversity feature in forestry plans, such as high nature value farmland, species-rich grassland etc.
· A review of the impacts of Ireland’s derogation to the Nitrates Regulation to protect water quality
The report recommendations now need to be acted on by the Oireachtas. It is essential that we see these recommendations passed into the next National Biodiversity Action Plan which is to be published in 2023. We also need to see the Irish government commit to international efforts to restore biodiversity at the COP15 meeting in Montreal
, Canada in December, particularly with regard to protecting 30% of land and sea by 2030.
IWT campaign officer Pádraic Fogarty says “We would like to thank the committee chair, Brian Leddin, as well as the committee members, for such clear and strong recommendations. They are extremely timely and relevant in light of the finalisation of a number of plans including the next Forest Strategy, the third River Basin Management Plan and the National Biodiversity Action Plan. We hope the findings of the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss will add to and strengthen these recommendations so that we can finally turn the corner on biodiversity loss in Ireland and begin the work of restoration.