Observations sought on National Biodiversity Plan for Ireland

Minister Gormley invites observations on draft second National Biodiversity Plan for Ireland

Environment Minister John Gormley today invited observations from interested organisations and members of the public on the content and substance of the draft of Ireland’s second National Biodiversity Plan.

In inviting observations, the Minister commented: “Biodiversity is important to all of us; it sustains key economic activity such as forestry, agriculture and fisheries. Moreover, Ireland’s natural environment is a key attraction for overseas visitors and critical for our tourism industry. Biodiversity also provides us with jobs and a greater quality of life, providing environmental services such as clean air, fresh water and carbon sequestration.”

Biodiversity – or biological diversity – is the term given to the variety of life on Earth. This includes all plant and animal species as well as ecosystems, habitats and genetic diversity. Ireland is rich in Biodiversity and the aim of the new National Biodiversity Plan is to ensure that Biodiversity is protected into the future in line with EU and International level strategies.

Ireland produced its first Biodiversity Plan in 2002, and the new plan will set out a programme of action for the period2010-2015. “Much has changed since the first Plan was published,” the Minister said.

“For example, it did not specifically mention Climate Change. Since 2002, there is a greater amount of even more compelling evidence that significant changes are occurring in our environment, many undoubtedly as a result of human activity. Many species have been lost and many more are under serious threat. We need to arrest these changes and restore our ecosystems where feasible. Where we can’t reverse what has happened or replace what has been lost, then we need to adopt a proper strategy of adaptation. However, securing the conservation and sustainable use of Biodiversity will involve a programme of actions far broader than just traditional nature conservation activities.”

The process of drawing up the new plan commenced in 2008 with an extensive public consultation process, followed by detailed discussion with significant stakeholders including a range of Government Departments and Agencies responsible for the preparation and implementation of the Plan and the Biodiversity Forum, which operates as a standing committee of Comhar, and which provided independent input into the development of the Plan.

The Minister now wishes to invite observations from interested organisations and members of the public on the content and substance of the draft Plan. It is available to view and/or download at www.npws.ie and www.environ.ie.

The Minister stressed that “everybody, individuals, organisations and decision-makers need to step up to the mark. Time for making the changes needed is definitely running out”.

Interested organisations or individuals are invited to submit written observations, no later than 22 October 2010. Observations can be made in English or Irish and must be returned by post or email to Biodiversity Policy Unit, National Parks & Wildlife Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government, 7 Ely Place, Dublin 2 or biodiversitypolicy@environ.ie