The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, is set to oblige public bodies to increase protection for Ireland’s biodiversity.
A proposed amendment to the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2018 was approved by Cabinet today and will be introduced during May at Report Stage in the Seanad. The amendment will oblige public bodies including all Government departments, local authorities, the National Roads Authority, the ESB, Ervia, Eirgrid and Irish Rail to report to the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht on the measures they are carrying out to promote the conservation of biodiversity and the National Biodiversity Action Plan.
Ireland was among 130 members represented at the Inter-Governmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) plenary meeting - which took place in Paris recently - and at which the IPBES Global Assessment was approved. The message from the assessment and the scientific evidence is clear: nature and biodiversity - the life that we share on this planet - is in trouble. The primary causes are human-driven. Nature is essential for human existence and good quality of life. Most of nature’s contributions to people are not fully replaceable, and some are irreplaceable.
Minister Josepha Madigan TD said “the loss of these is happening at a rate never before seen in human history. These services, habitats and species are critical to human life on the planet and provide the foundations of our society. Natural systems also provide the buffers that will mitigate the effects of climate change. The time for action is now.
Biodiversity means all forms of life, from the tiniest plants and single-celled animals to giant oak trees and the great whales. It is our life support system – we depend on it for our food, pollination, soil fertility, clean air and water. The introduction of this Biodiversity obligation on public bodies is timely.
Globally we are losing plant, insect, mammal and bird biodiversity at a rate unprecedented in human history. In Ireland, 85% of our protected habitats are in poor or inadequate condition, and over 50% are declining. 14% of species assessed are considered to be endangered.”
Minister Madigan added that “to protect nature - and to make the country a better place for people and biodiversity - we need all sectors to play a part. The Government’s National Biodiversity Action Plan includes the creation of a biodiversity duty across sectors to ensure they promote biodiversity and reduce the impact of their work.
They can ensure they are compliant with all legislation, and step up to maintain and enhance biodiversity and be accountable for any impact, positive or negative, of their work.
Practical examples include the sustainable management of Department and agency holdings. In many parks areas that used to be mown every week are now managed as meadows, allowing a rich diversity of plants, insects and birds to thrive. Native trees and plants can replace exotic shrubs, and invasive species can be controlled.
This Department is already taking significant action to protect and enhance Ireland’s biodiversity. We have co-operated across Government to draw up adaptation actions to increase our resilience to Climate Change through the Biodiversity Sectoral Climate Change Adaptation Plan.
We have reached out to sectors and asked them to step up for Nature and contribute towards the “Seeds for Nature” campaign at the first National Biodiversity Conference earlier this year.
We understand that action is required across society and we will progress a Business and Biodiversity Platform in 2019 together with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation to provide best practise tools for conservation within business and their supply chains.”
In conclusion the Minister said “I am listening to calls from wider society for more action for Nature, through submissions made to the Heritage 2030 consultation process.
We have made funding available to Local Authorities to increase awareness at local level, to enable local communities to be more proactive so we can make the transformational changes necessary to turn the tide of over-consumption, degradation and pollution.”