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The deer in Phoenix Park.

Ireland’s National Parks to be expanded and enhanced under new biodiversity plan

The expansion of National Parks is one of 194 actions outlined in the plan.

LAST UPDATE | 1 hr ago

NATIONAL PARKS ACROSS Ireland are going to be “expanded and enhanced” under a new Government biodiversity plan launched today.

The Government is also promising to take stronger action on wildlife crime, to deliver on obligations to protect species and their habitats, and to develop a national restoration plan.

Ireland’s fourth National Biodiversity Action Plan will be the first to be backed by legislation that will bind public bodies through legal requirements.

The plan will also see an increased effort to tackle invasive species.

  • The Noteworthy team wants to find out why invasive plants are spreading out of control in Ireland. Support the investigation here.

Launching the plan, Minister of State for Nature and Heritage Malcolm Noonan said that nature is in trouble in Ireland, but he believes “it can recover”.

He said that he is determined that this new plan will be one of impact, and that be believes that its statutory footing and the €3.15bn Climate and Nature Fund will enable real change to be made.

Noonan said that by fulfilling the 194 actions outlined in the plan, Ireland can “turn the tide on nature loss”.

There are five core objectives in the plan, which aum to adopt a “whole-of-Government, whole-of-society” approach to Biodiversity and by trying to meet urgent conservation and restoration needs.

The latter comes following last year’s ruling by the European Court of Justice that Ireland broke EU nature laws by failing to protect hundreds of sensitive habitats across the country.

The plan also sets a core objective of “enhancing the evidence base” for action on biodiversity – this will take the form of the
development and strengthening of long-term monitoring programmes around biodiversity projects.

The new biodiversity plan also aims to see an increased collaboration between the Government and farmers on nature-friendly farming.

Nature governance across the State is to be reviewed, according to the goals set out in the plan, and the ways in which the Government can “formally recognise” the rights of nature are to be assessed.

The plan was developed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) alongside other key stakeholders.

Noonan said that research has shown that agriculture, forestry, invasive species, and resource extraction and management are having significant impacts on biodiversity in Ireland.

Many of these issues were discussed at length in the report issued by the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss. The targets set out in the assembly’s reports are incorporated into the Government’s new plan.

Dr Deirdre Lynn, the Assistant Director of Science Advice and Research with the National Parks and Wildlife said that in recent decades, scientists across the world have been documenting worrying trends in biodiversity decline.

“In Ireland, almost a third of our EU-protected species and 85% of EU-protected habitats are in unfavourable status, over half of native Irish plant species have declined in the last 20 years and 30% of our semi-natural grasslands have been lost in the past 10 years,” she said.

Lynn added that over 20% of breeding and 52% of key wintering bird species are reported to have short term declining trends.

“Extinction threatens 48 species living in the Irish marine environment, including fish and shellfish. It is imperative that we arrest these declines and start the process of regeneration,”she added.

Niall Ó Donnchú, the Director General with the service said that following a phase of “renewal”, the service is “ready to lead on the ambition of the plan.” 

Additional reporting by Eoghan Dalton

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