Population growth and flooding are the biggest threats to our land and soil structure.
According to the latest EPA report, our predicted population increase (and subsequent settlement of people) has implications for soil quality and for myriad other things.
“Population increase and settlement growth are the principal causes of land-use changes in urban areas,” says the EPA report.
“This has implications for soil quality, climate, biodiversity integrity, air quality, flood risk, and water quality.”
Ireland’s population is projected to reach 5.1m by 2031.
According to the Central Statistics Office, the greater Dublin area will see the biggest growth.
The EPA warns that “forward strategic planning and new infrastructure are needed to ensure that growth is sustainable and does not add to the environmental pressures”.
In relation to flooding, the EPA report refers to the Shannon flooding of 2015.
It states that this incident has “highlighted” the need for debate and a countrywide solution to the issue.
“This flooding has highlighted the need for a wider debate and a national solution to managing flood risks in catchments, and managing land use in areas at risk of significant flooding,” states the report.
The agency also recorded a decline in peatlands.
“Between 2007 and 2013, there was a decline in the range, area, structure, and functions and status of Ireland’s peatlands,” reads the report.
Now, only 10% of the country’s original raised bog and 28% of the original blanket peatlands resource, are suitable for conservation. Land drainage, reclamation for agricultural purposes, and peat extraction have all impacted this decline in our boglands.
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