A letter to the editor of the Irish Daily Mail

Many Daily Mail readers may oppose plans to survey the frog population of Ireland. The Environmental Pillar respects those views, which spring from a deep sense of the importance of prioritising public spending in times of crisis. However, the outcry and front page headlines have made it difficult to separate fact from fiction.
Fiction No. 1: This project will cost €125,000.
The tender lists the maximum cost at €125,000. It is likely that the final submitted price will be much less as tenders will be judged on criteria including quality and cost.
Fiction No. 2: It is not necessary.
A healthy frog population means a healthy ecosystem and a planning system which protects wetlands and curtails sprawling development. The recent flooding crisis may have been lessened if we had a healthy ecosystem. Wetlands and marshlands are not just home to frogs; they also slow rainwater flows to rivers and estuaries. Like a canary in a coal mine, frogs are an indicator species.
The survey is necessary to comply with EU habitats directive. Frogs are a listed species and must be monitored. In fact, the European Court of Justice has issued judgements against Ireland for failing to properly implement the Habitats directive. If left unimplemented this will lead to fines.
The project will focus on frogs and their habitats. It will produce statistically sound and scientifically robust recommendations for future monitoring, and it will compliment the Irish Peatland Conservation Council’s ‘Hop to it’ frog survey which is an annual recording of frog sightings in Ireland.
Fiction No. 3: It is not value for money.
The tender for this survey indicates that existing staff from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) can be used to conduct the survey. These staff have previous experience with national surveys and the applicants are urged to incorporate NPWS involvement as follows: 75 People x 3 days.
Some readers will not agree with everything the Environmental Pillar has said. But we hope that they will accept that the Department of Environment has a responsibility to implement EU environment directives, and protect the Irish environment that would otherwise be destroyed by bad planning and unsustainable development. We are conscious of the need to reduce unnecessary spending in this moment of crisis, but if we abandon the protection of the environment, many more crises await us.
Yours sincerely,
Michael Ewing, Coordinator, Environmental Pillar of Social Partnership