Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action launches report on Biodiversity

The Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action today launched its Report on Biodiversity, which makes 75 recommendations across five key themes identified during engagements with stakeholders and through submissions to the Committee.

Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action launches report on BiodiversityCommittee Cathaoirleach Deputy Brian Leddin said: “This report points the way towards how we restore biodiversity in nature and how to best reap the co-benefits associated with diverse ecosystems in order to mitigate climate change.”

The Committee held a series of engagements with stakeholders throughout 2021 and earlier this year in which they identified key issues and themes which Members believe highlighted the poor state of biodiversity on a global level as well as the issues that are specific to Ireland. The areas issues and themes identified were:

  • Biodiversity and climate – the benefits of diverse ecosystems;
  • Biodiversity loss in Ireland – how the degradation of biodiversity happened;
  • Marine Biodiversity – the loss of biodiversity in marine environments and the future potential for these areas;
  • Agriculture and land use;
  • Restoration of biodiversity – how to change the downward trend through monitoring and research, peatlands, forestry, and policy and legislative change.

Deputy Leddin said: “The report sets out 75 recommendations which include a call to review the Arterial Drainage Act, and recommendations around the need for prioritising the designation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as well as the immediate development and implementation of management plans for existing and future designated MPAs to restore biodiversity and prevent further damage.

“In addition, a key element in restoring biodiversity on land is the implementation of a robust agri-environment scheme would provide farmers with greater incentives to protect and create areas of biodiversity on their land.

“In terms of forestry, the Committee recommends pursuing a policy of forestry diversification to increase the resilience of our forests and improve biodiversity. The implementation of the Continuous Cover Forestry system on a broader basis would provide for greater sustainable forest management.

“Given the lack of consistent data and research into biodiversity in Ireland, the Committee recommends increased resources for research, monitoring and data gathering projects for biodiversity in Ireland to inform future Government policy.

“The Committee recommends the introduction of legislative provisions to protect and promote biodiversity on a statutory basis to set out roles and obligations across all Departments and public bodies in respect of biodiversity. Biodiversity Officers/Unit should be established within Government Department, local authorities and other public bodies where appropriate to coordinate and promote biodiversity measures.

“Finally, the Committee are of the view that consideration should be given to the establishment of a Joint Committee on Biodiversity to oversee developments with regard to biodiversity in all environments.”

Deputy Leddin thanked all the witnesses for their valuable contributions and Members of the Committee for their dedicated work in producing the report.

The Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action has 14 Members, nine from the Dáil and five from the Seanad.

The Committee’s Report on Biodiversity is available on the Oireachtas website.

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