March 2, 2021

The biodiversity challenge is impacting the green credentials of Ireland

Climate Action in Ireland

A major review of Ireland’s five-year plan has highlighted funding, fragmented policies, monitoring and public communication as the main challenges to tackling the biodiversity crisis in Ireland.

The National Biodiversity Forum report on the National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) listed five key recommendations for the heritage minister Malcolm Noonan to address. The report explained that the taxpayer is not receiving a valued return on the biodiversity policies due to a lack of coordination between the NBAP and other policies in Ireland. The report emphasises that policies must be consistent and follow the intentions of the NBAP. 

The report stresses that placing the focus on economic growth instead of the sustainable management of our environmental systems could result in further damage. The report also warns that there is a significant risk in the continued promotion of Ireland and its national products as ‘green’ bearing in mind the current state of the biodiversity in Ireland.
The review discovered that Ireland spends an average of 250 million euros every year on biodiversity, equating to 0.13% of its GDP, which is well under the recommended 0.3% by the International Union for Conservation of Nature for OECD countries. 

The report suggests that Ireland could be doing far more to go beyond its current level of environmental compliance. Non-compliance exists across multiple areas and the existing monitoring and evaluating systems for biodiversity are less than adequate.

The report believes the National Biodiversity Data Centre required strengthening and expansion, enabling biodiversity monitoring to be recognised as a long term priority, with the protection from constantly changing policies and electoral cycles.

The review indicates that the biodiversity challenges need to be viewed and regarded in the same way as the climate change emergency. Climate issues remain the biggest priority and as a consequence gain the most attention in terms of parliament and policies compared to biodiversity. Yet, the truth is nature and biodiversity can play a crucial part in achieving both national and international net-zero targets.

Protecting and recovering biodiversity and generate benefits such as climate mitigation and adaptation, as well as benefits of improved human health and wellbeing. BirdWatch Ireland, a member of the National Biodiversity Forum stated that the five-year-plan had only made some progress. Oonagh Duggan, the head of the organisation said there is a need to incentivise farmers and fishers to protect and restore ecosystems and certain species. Duggan believes that these are critical areas that need to be addressed and will have a significant impact on biodiversity plans across Ireland. Duggan emphasises that the following biodiversity action plan will be pivotal in determining the path of biodiversity and natural heritage in Ireland.