Ireland failing on threatened habitats, report says

Ireland is failing to fully implement European directives aimed at protecting a range of threatened species and habitats, according to a new report.

The report, which received input from Environmental Pillar members in Ireland, gave 18 member states a scorecard for their performance in implementing the Birds and Habitats Directives to protect Europe’s most precious natural areas, wildlife and habitats

Overall the report found that Ireland is doing well in the transposition of the Birds and Habitats Directives but is failing to fully implement them and “effective conservation of threatened species and habitats to be achieved on the ground”.

The scorecard shows Ireland is failing on:

  • Management of protected sites;
  • Protection of our endangered and threatened species;
  • Connecting important landscapes and biodiverse areas across the country;
  • Tackling non-native invasive species;
  • Genuine engagement with stakeholder and facilitating public participation.

The study found Ireland could do better in a number of areas including the disturbance of species and implementation of appropriate assessments, funding and resources, the promotion of research and the monitoring of habitats and species monitoring.

It also finds the Government is not providing adequate funding to cover Natura 2000 needs.

Natura 2000 is a network of core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species and some rare natural habitat types which are protected in their own right.

It stretches over all 28 EU countries and covers 18% of the EU’s land area and almost 6% of its marine territory.

Action plans to safeguard the majority of Ireland’s protected species are “out of date now” while others are being implemented “in a piecemeal fashion”, the report finds.

It also finds that species monitoring is poor, with long-term data “lacking” for over half of bird species assessed in 2014. Some habitat types are also found to lack monitoring.

The report calls for a national action plan to be developed to tackle invasive species and states that invasive species in the marine environment are “potentially problematic”.

Conservation policy spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar Oonagh Duggan said “a lack of political will” to protect Ireland’s threatened species and habitats is condemning Irish nature to loss and decline.

“We have amazing internationally important species, habitats and protected areas for nature in Ireland but the report shows that the Irish Government is sacrificing this natural heritage and letting down the Irish people who take great enjoyment from nature,” she said.

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