The Environmental Pillar welcomes the report from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment and Climate Action on the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss but has stressed that rapid implementation of measures proposed is vital to address the worsening biodiversity crisis in Ireland.
In particular, the Environmental Pillar, Ireland’s environmental NGO advocacy coalition, has welcomed the recommendations that:
- the Government should immediately establish a Biodiversity and Nature Restoration Fund that could be drawn down without delay
- that the legislation governing Coillte and Bord na Mona (namely, the Forestry Act 1988, and the Turf Development Acts 1946-1988) is urgently reviewed and amended to align with national and EU laws and biodiversity objectives.
- the Arterial Drainage Act 1945 be urgently reviewed and amended to align with national and EU laws and objectives to protect, promote and enhance biodiversity.
- legislation to designate Marine Protected Areas is progressed through the Oireachtas with urgency in line with EU targets to designate 30% of our waters (with 10% having the strictest protection) by 2030 and that appropriate resources are given for enforcement of such protection.
- new legislation is introduced for the protection of trees, hedgerows, and native woodlands,
- certain areas of national parks be made inaccessible to the public to allow for the full protection of nature in some spaces in line with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) protected area management category 1a – strict nature reserve.
- agricultural policy should be comprehensively reviewed for compliance with the protection of biodiversity and the environment.
- a new Ombudsman for Future Generations be established with the resources of an office, or a Future Generations Commission to protect the long-term interests of human and ecological well-being for current and future generations.
Karen Ciesielski, Coordinator of the Environmental Pillar: “This report recognises the importance of the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly to halt biodiversity loss and restore our degraded natural landscapes, fauna and wildlife. Now that we have a clear understanding of the problems and how we can address them, it is key that the recommendations are implemented as a priority. The time to address the biodiversity crisis is now.”
Oonagh Duggan, Head of Advocacy with Birdwatch Ireland: “All the science shows that biodiversity loss has been particularly severe across Ireland’s natural environment with a range of once common and abundant species now threatened with extinction. More than four years ago, Dáil Éireann declared a climate and biodiversity crisis, but warnings on the state of biodiversity in Ireland have grown starker. It is imperative that the Government acts on these recommendations immediately.”
Fintan Kelly, Agriculture and Land Use Officer, Environmental Pillar: “To date biodiversity loss has not been properly prioritised by successive Governments. The Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss report and today’s Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment and Climate Action’s report has given our natural world the necessary attention they deserve. They not only highlight the problems but also provide clear actions to address the many issues contributing to the biodiversity crisis. The onus is now on decision makers to take urgent action within the life of this Government.”
Caroline Whyte, ecological economist at Feasta : “We welcome the recommendation that an Ombudsman or Commission for Future Generations be established, as this would help to encourage longer-term thinking, reducing the risk that important environmental protection measures could be undermined by the election cycle or political expediency.”
Communications Officer Environmental Pillar