The Irish government has been criticized for failing to take real action as the country’s second biodiversity conference kicked off at Dublin Castle on Wednesday.
Social Democrat spokeswoman on biodiversity Jennifer Whitmore said in the news that only six of at least 31 biodiversity commissioners promised in the government program have been announced
Five already exist but it was suggested that at least one would be available to each local authority.
Whitmore said the move meant councils would be unable to meet their biodiversity commitments.
Meanwhile, Extinction Rebellion Ireland protested outside the event.
They, too, called for less talk, more action and legislation rather than proposals.
Ireland’s second Biodiversity Conference was launched by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien.
The Department of Fingal TD oversees the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Act now for nature
He said: “It is no coincidence that the theme of this year’s conference is ‘Act Now For Nature’.
“We know what we have to do. It’s time to go ahead and do it.”
Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan also spoke.
The Greens TD recalled the River Nore where he had played as a child and said while the river had always been good to locals the relationship had not always been reciprocated.
“Our collective wellbeing and prosperity depend on a healthy natural world,” he added.
The conference learned how NPWS spending rose 64 percent under the oversight of Malcolm Noonan.
His party colleague Minister Pippa Hackett spoke about the impact farming could have in the fight for improved biodiversity, given that 60 per cent of Ireland’s land is farmed.
“It’s clear our farmers have a crucial role to play,” she added, as she called for a holistic farming approach – rather than improvements that “constrain biodiversity to a strip or corner of a field”.
A little less Conversation …
Whitmore told Buzz: “There’s a lot of talk about government but not a lot of action.
“The simple things that should be done easily are not being done.
“We see today that they have announced six biodiversity officers for councils across the country.
“There are currently five in place and the government is announcing six, which is obviously not enough.
“Fingal Council said they can’t meet their biodiversity targets unless they have six themselves.
“They made that very clear in their action plan.
“It’s not enough and it was very disappointing from the government.
“You have to start putting your money where your mouth is to get these things done.”
Whitmore says it’s not enough to just run biodiversity plans locally, after Secretary Hackett suggested it was the best way to get results and get the public on board.
“There are actions that need to take place at the local level and need to take place at the local level, but there needs to be guidance from the government,” she added.
“We need laws that protect our nature and they are not currently in place.
“We need enforcement to uphold these laws — and there is no enforcement either.”
Extinction Rebellion protest outside the conference
Extinction Rebellion Ireland activist Maria Arnold agrees.
She spoke to us as she protested at Dublin Castle yesterday ahead of the government’s first biodiversity conference since 2019.
Arnold said, “President Higgins said at the first conference, ‘If we were miners, we’d be knee-deep in canaries.’
“That was three years ago and nothing happened – now we are almost up to our necks with canaries.
“We have come again to address this issue and say it must stop talking. All proposals that are put forward must be enshrined in law, and that is what we ask for.
“The first simple one is to stop peat extraction,” she added.
“It’s a carbon sink and the easiest thing we can do. It’s like our Amazon.
“Next, marine protected areas would need to be established and legislated and enforced.
“There are all these steps that we know that we don’t need to talk about anymore.
“The experts told us so and now they must act.”
Representatives from the United Nations and the EU also spoke at the conference.
The Head of Biodiversity Unit at the EC’s Environment Directorate-General called on Ireland to address emissions from the peatlands drained for agriculture.
He said that while they make up just 3 percent of agricultural land, they account for a quarter of the sector’s emissions.
Leiner described them as “low-hanging fruit” for positive action to reduce emissions and improve biodiversity.
inaction of biodiversity
Inaction on biodiversity issues in Ireland was covered by Buzz. From overgrazing devastating Ireland’s highlands, to the destruction of peatlands, to the future of the NPWS and an explanation of what we mean by biodiversity. You can follow the latest developments by subscribing to Buzz’s climate newsletter.