Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, is set to launch Ireland’s 4th National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) today. This plan, which aims to protect and restore nature nationwide, is the first to be published under the Wildlife Amendment Act 2023, which imposes legal requirements for public bodies. The official launch will take place at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin. The NBAP consists of 194 actions, including commitments to develop a national Nature Restoration Plan, increase collaboration on nature-friendly farming, and strengthen action on wildlife crime. The plan also addresses key recommendations made by the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss, particularly those related to agriculture.
The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage states that biodiversity is fundamental to societal well-being and economic development, and the decline of biodiversity poses serious threats to people. The NBAP outlines how Ireland will reverse these declines by 2030. The plan is backed by legislation that requires selected public service bodies to integrate biodiversity into their plans, policies, and programs, and to report on their progress to the minister. The plan focuses on accountability, resourcing, and implementation, and includes commitments to expand and enhance the network of national parks, conserve precious habitats and species, target efforts on invasive species, review nature governance across the state, and explore the formal recognition of the rights of nature.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) at the department has led the development of the NBAP in collaboration with key stakeholders across government and wider society. The department acknowledges that agriculture, forestry, invasive species, resource extraction, and development have significant impacts on biodiversity in Ireland. Many of these issues were addressed in the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss report, and the NBAP seeks to address several of its key recommendations.
Minister Noonan, who has visited various projects and initiatives across the country, expressed admiration for the passionate and dedicated individuals involved in the protection and restoration of habitats and wildlife. He emphasized the importance of empowering these individuals to continue their work. The NBAP will provide a focused approach to conserve and restore biodiversity, contributing to national, regional, and global targets. Dr. Deirdre Lynn, assistant director of science advice and research at the NPWS, who led the development of the plan, highlighted that millions of years of evolution are at stake.
The department notes that scientists worldwide have been documenting concerning declines in biodiversity in recent decades. In Ireland, almost a third of EU-protected species and 85% of EU-protected habitats are in unfavorable status. Additionally, over half of native Irish plant species have declined in the last 20 years, and there has been a loss of 30% of semi-natural grasslands in the past decade. Furthermore, 48 species in the Irish marine environment, including fish, crustaceans, shellfish, and invertebrates, are at risk of extinction.
Overall, the launch of Ireland’s 4th National Biodiversity Action Plan marks a significant step towards protecting and restoring nature nationwide. With a focus on collaboration, accountability, and implementation, the plan aims to reverse the decline of biodiversity and address key recommendations made by the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss. It is crucial to empower individuals and organizations involved in conservation efforts to ensure the successful implementation of the plan and safeguard Ireland’s unique natural heritage for future generations.