We are currently experiencing what is known as the sixth mass extinction event. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that in just the past 40 years, global wildlife populations have declined by 40%.In Ireland we are experiencing devastating nature and biodiversity loss. Half of Irish bee species, which are so important for natural pollination, are in decline and one third are at risk of extinction. Two-thirds of our native birds are on the red or amber conservation lists, including the curlew, corncrake and barn owl.
This does not have to happen. We know the causes of biodiversity loss – habitat destruction, pollution, growth of invasive species, land-use change and climate change all play a part in – and we can take action to counteract them. The Green Party has the practical solutions needed to reverse the destruction of our plant and animal populations. The Green Party will:
- Insist on full compliance with European legislation on biodiversity. This encompasses the Forest Consent System, the Bird and Habitats Directive and the catchment management approach of the Water Framework Directive.
- Increase funding for the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
- Develop a new National Land Use Plan that puts special emphasis on the need to take care of our land and natural heritage.
- Strengthen the role of the EPA by making sure that it has the power and resources to enforce laws that protect our environment.
- Strengthen the role of local authorities in environmental protection by legislating for the conservation of our natural heritage such as our wetlands and hedgerows. Our law would mean that planning permission would be needed for any significant works.
One of the most important ways to restore our natural heritage is to prevent habitat destruction. To achieve this we will
- Ensure that changes in Irish agricultural policy to promote biodiversity would also benefit farmers, by supporting reform of the Common Agricultural Policy to reward farmers for providing ecological services.
- Tighten restrictions on the harmful use of pesticides and insecticides, and review the effects of the nitrates derogation and phase it out if deemed necessary by the EPA.
- Pay a special forestry planting grant to 120,000 farmers around the country for the planting of one hectare of woodland on their farms. This will help us to increase tree cover from 11% to 30% of Irish land by 2030.
- Designate 50% of Irish territorial waters as Marine Protected Areas.
- Immediately implement our Waste Reduction Bill to reduce the use of single-use plastics, many of which end up in the sea, and to establish a nationwide deposit and return scheme for beverage containers.
- Undertake a major programme of peatland restoration and rewetting.
Green Party Biodiversity PolicyClick here to view the policyClick here to view the policy