Government Urged to Develop Policies to Support Farmers and Protect Biodiversity
A new report published today has called on the Irish government to develop policies that ensure farmers can continue to produce quality food and that Ireland has prosperous family farms in the years ahead. The report, released by the Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action, also highlights the need for the state to play a leading and supportive role in the adoption and implementation of the EU Nature Restoration Law. It further emphasizes the importance of significantly improving water quality in line with the EU Water Framework Directive.
The report, which examines the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly report on Biodiversity Loss, emphasizes the need for a new strategic vision on biodiversity loss in Ireland. The Joint Committee has made 86 recommendations that it believes are vital to addressing the biodiversity crisis in Ireland in a meaningful way.
Some of the key recommendations include considering a referendum or referenda to protect biodiversity through the incorporation of the rights of nature and the right to a healthy environment into the constitution. The report also calls for the implementation of a strategic vision for the well-being of the people of Ireland, as well as the future of rural communities, farmer livelihood, and rural development. Additionally, it suggests developing a strategy to support national and EU ambitions on biodiversity, soil, forestry, and water.
The report also stresses the need for a fundamental change in approach to environmental governance across government departments, as well as prioritizing the implementation and enforcement of existing environmental laws. It further calls for a review and amendment of legislation governing Coillte and Bord na Mona to align with national and EU laws and biodiversity objectives. The committee also recommends reviewing current and future taxation and levies to ensure they do not incentivize damage to nature.
Deputy Brian Leddin, the committee’s cathaoirleach, emphasizes the importance of farmers having an income from both quality food production and environmental services. He stresses that these objectives should not be in conflict and that farmers and non-farming landowners should be financially rewarded for their contributions to ecosystem services and ecological care.
Leddin adds that the recommendations in the report represent the committee’s conclusions following a careful consideration of the Citizens’ Assembly report on Biodiversity Loss. He recommends that all recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly report be examined and considered for implementation by the government.
Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has welcomed the publication of the report and has expressed its support for the recommendations. IFI, as a key state environmental agency, plays a significant role in protecting and restoring biodiversity in Ireland’s freshwater and coastal waters. The agency calls for additional powers and resources for enforcement officers, as well as enhanced collaboration between relevant state agencies to better respond to wildlife and fisheries crime, and pollution incidents. IFI also echoes the report’s call for a review of sanctions and penalties associated with breaking environmental laws.
The report serves as an important call to action for the Irish government to prioritize the protection of biodiversity and support farmers in their efforts to produce quality food while preserving the environment. It highlights the need for a comprehensive and strategic approach to address the biodiversity crisis in Ireland and ensure a sustainable future for all.