20/11/2014 Minister Humphreys publishes Prioritised Action Framework to improve status of Ireland’s habitats and wildlife
Framework informed by reports to EU on status of Irish Birds, Habitats and other Species
The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, today (Thursday) published Ireland’s Prioritised Action Framework under the EU Habitats Directive. This framework, which has been approved by Government, identifies a range of actions needed to help improve the status of Ireland’s habitats and wildlife.
These include short, medium and long term actions, such as conservation management strategies, more focused agri-environment schemes and habitat restoration. The Framework has been informed by a major new report on the status of Ireland’s habitats and species, also being released today, together with a summary report on the status of Irish birds which was recently sent to the EU.
Under the EU Habitats Directive, Ireland is obliged to provide an assessment every 6 years on the status of our habitats and species. The first Habitats and Species Report was published in 2008. The reports being published today show that many of our important habitats, such as our peatlands, native woodlands and coastal habitats, are under continuing pressure. However, many native species, such as the Irish hare and the otter, are doing well.
The picture on bird species is mixed; while some species, such as the curlew and dunlin, have seen major declines, others have seen a revival – like the buzzard – or have taken up residence for the first time in Ireland – like the great spotted woodpecker.
Speaking today Minister Humphreys said:
“For the first time we have a comprehensive framework setting out the most important measures required to better protect our vulnerable species. Success will not come overnight; restoring our important habitats to good conservation status will involve taking a long journey, which may take decades for habitats such as raised bogs. But we can achieve our goals if we ensure that we manage our resources carefully and that we adopt policies which complement rather than work against nature.
“The Framework identifies priorities for action and can be used as a tool to improve targeted spending for nature conservation. It does not create any new demand for funding, nor does it place new restrictions on farmers or landowners. Rather it helps clarify what are the most pressing obligations under the EU Nature Directives.
“My Department engaged in consultation with a wide range of Departments and Government Agencies in drawing up the Framework. It is a tool which has already been used for the design of the GLAS agri-environment measures. I wish to thank the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, in particular for his support and engagement on this area.
“The Habitats report highlights the challenges in managing our raised and blanket bogs. The significant work being undertaken by my Department in terms of developing a National Peatlands Strategy, National SAC Raised Bog Management Plan and a review of the NHA raised bogs are important initiatives in responding to the concerns highlighted in this report.
“These reports are also valuable tools in promoting our natural capital. Protecting our natural heritage and habitats helps to promote and sustain jobs in the regions, and is a very positive contributor to economic growth. A healthy natural environment is fundamental to protecting our agricultural sector, underpins our tourism sector, and can help to limit the worst effects of climate change. The attractiveness of Ireland as a place of inward investment relies just as much on having a healthy environment as it does on competitive tax rates. It is in all our interest – business, agriculture, local community and environmental – that we better protect this rich resource and begin to restore the damage of the past.”
Note to Editors:
The documentation being released today is as follows:
- The overview report on the Status of EU Protected Habitats and Species in Ireland, based on 2nd national report submitted to the European Commission in accordance with the requirements of the EU Habitats Directive. It can be viewed here:http://www.npws.ie/publications/article17assessments/article172013assessmentdocuments/
(The highly-detailed assessments, notes and maps have been compiled into habitat and species volumes and uploaded to the NPWS website. These volumes run to over 1500 pages. The Department is publishing today an easy to read overview report.)
- Details on the status of Ireland’s birds taken from Ireland’s report submitted to the European Commission in accordance with the EU Birds Directive. It can be viewed here:
(More comprehensive information is contained in the recently published Bird Atlas of Britain and Ireland, a collaborative work involving state agencies and voluntary bodies across all 5 jurisdictions on these islands.)
- Ireland’s first Prioritised Action Framework which targets actions for nature conservation under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives to respond to the issues addressed in the first two reports. It can be viewed here: http://www.npws.ie/publications/PAF/