Disbelief as Green ministers hand nature protection to Housing Department

BirdWatch Ireland, Irish Wildlife Trust, Friends of the Earth, An Taisce, SWAN and the Environmental Pillar make joint call to #BringNatureHome

Leading environmental NGOs have expressed disbelief at the new Government’s proposal to move responsibility for nature to the Department of Housing. Before the election, environmental campaigners called for responsibility for nature, water, waste and climate change to be brought together in the Department of the Environment. Instead the new Government, with two Green Party Cabinet ministers, is proposing to give responsibility for handling biodiversity to the minister whose brief already includes the massive challenge of tackling the housing crisis.

BirdWatch Ireland, Irish Wildlife Trust, Friends of the Earth, An Taisce, SWAN and the Environmental Pillar have called on the Government to #BringNatureHome to the Department of the Environment.

Oonagh Duggan, Assistant Head of Advocacy, BirdWatch Ireland commented: “We are shocked by the proposal to move the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to the Department of Housing. By giving responsibility for nature protection to the Department of Housing, ministers are throwing the biodiversity crisis onto a department already dealing with a housing crisis. We believe that in this set-up, nature will get short shrift. We’re calling on the Government and particularly Green Party Cabinet members to immediately halt plans to move nature (NPWS) to the Department of Housing – to not give nature away.”  

Pádraig Fogarty, Campaigns Officer, Irish Wildlife Trust said: “We are extremely disappointed that this new ‘green’ Government has missed a golden opportunity to unite responsibility for water, biodiversity and climate in the same Department. The fragmentation of environmental responsibility has long hindered the successful restoration and protection of our natural environment. We had hoped with this Government that we would finally see a strategic approach to nature conservation and environmental protection, but sadly this has not come to pass. The green wave has failed to keep nature afloat.”

Oisín Coghlan, Director, Friends of the Earth said: “It beggars belief that the first thing Eamon Ryan and Catherine Martin plan to do as they get their feet under the Cabinet table is abolish the Department of the Environment and give away responsibility for nature to a department whose primary role is to facilitate builders and developers. All that talk about the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss will ring rather hollow if the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Green Party are saying they don’t want responsibility for nature in their departments.”

The environmental groups behind the #BringNatureHome campaign are calling for the following

  1. An immediate halt to plans to move nature (NPWS) to the Department of Housing.
  2. An independent review of the role of the NPWS to make recommendations on the best governance structure for nature protection with the view to strengthening it.
  3. The appointment of a junior minister for water to ensure protection of our inland waters and marine environment gets the priority it deserves.