May 17, 2022

Office of Public Works announces new Biodiversity Action Strategy

A new survey by the Office of Public Works (OPW) discovered the majority of the Irish population wants to play a positive role in enhancing nature, but over half of the respondents are unsure how to take action to restore biodiversity. The results came as the OPW introduced its Biodiversity Action Strategy across the organisation. 

With the urgency to address a decline in biodiversity, the OPW strategy includes a plan to focus on promoting and protecting nature over the next five years. The impact of the OPW strategy will launch at its 100 offices, 780 heritage sites and 5,700 acres of gardens and parklands.

The OPW represent one particular government body working to support the delivery of the National Biodiversity Strategy. The OPW strategy identifies 48 actions across five core themes that focus on and integrate biodiversity into all areas. 

Within these plans is a proposal to create a ‘Homes for Wildlife’ project, focusing on adapting lands, buildings and other structures and providing homes for wildlife, such as roosting sites for bats and nesting habitats for birds.

The announcement of the strategy comes at a time of rising public awareness surrounding biodiversity, especially with many young people committed to this challenge. Despite this recognition, there is a considerable gap in knowledge, with research indicating that 1 in 4 people are unaware of the endangered species in Ireland. This figure highlights the necessity for continued public engagement and outreach, and the OPW continues to focus on building this work at their sites. 

The OPW will utilise its expertise among its employees by establishing several biodiversity champions, and raising awareness of species and habitats to create a training and interpretation program at all visitor sites.

Patrick O’Donovan, the minister for the OPW, explains that we constantly finding out more about nature and how dependent we are on our surrounding environment. While studies suggest that 87% of Irish people recognise the benefits of engaging with nature for health and well-being, over 50% fail to understand how we can support biodiversity. 

O’Donovan believes more needs to be done to protect and enhance Ireland’s biodiversity. The new strategy represents an important step to guide the efforts of OPW and encourage the public to support OPW with its future biodiversity plans. 

The OPW has launched a new online campaign, #InOurNature, encouraging people to promote biodiversity at home. The campaign launched before the Biodiversity Week, where the OPW will host a series of events at various sites that engage local communities.