Conserving Ireland’s natural habitats and biodiversity can help in the fight against climate change

At the National Ploughing Championships 2014, the Environmental Pillar launched a report into how Ireland’s biodiversity can help in the fight against climate change.
The report entitled ‘Ireland’s Biodiversity: Our natural ally in the fight against climate change’ outlines how protecting natural habitats is an important and cost effective option for government to store carbon and offset greenhouse gas emissions.
The report discusses the interdependency of climate, biodiversity and ecosystem services and shows how integrated policies can achieve climate mitigation and adaptation and at the same time prevent further biodiversity loss.
It highlights the most urgent Irish policy issues that need to be addressed in order to mitigate and adapt to climate change without further degrading ecosystem services.
The report covers topics such as peatlands, tree cover, bioenergy, wind energy, coasts, invasive species, food security, and ecological networks.
Some recommendations:

  • Restore protected peatlands to stop carbon loss.
  • Promote agroforestry and protect scrublands.
  • Shift policy priorities from bioenergy to energy efficiency.
  • Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) should be carried out on all wind energy plans with cumulative, secondary and indirect impacts fully considered.
  • Produce guidelines on ecological networks and their integration into spacial planning.
  • Ensure agriculture practices and land use do not contribute to flooding or erosion
  • Incentivise coastal ecosystem protection for biodiversity and carbon storage.
  • Draw up eradication plans for invasive species that are already spreading
  • Maximize supports for conversion to organic methods of production and for sustainable horticulture

The report was put together by the Working and Educating for Biodiversity (WEB) group. The group is comprised of IEN member groups that are involved in the protection of the unique natural habitats, flora and fauna of Ireland’s land and sea.
The document was produced with the support of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government under the Irish Environmental Network Biodiversity Policy Strand. The report will be distributed to key decision makers in Ireland.
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