A new report on the status of our habitats and species paints a dire picture for Irish biodiversity and stresses the extent of the extinction crisis.
The report, published by the Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht shows 85% of our habitats are in "unfavourable" conditions with no improvement since the previous report in 2013.
It says that 45% of our habitats are considered to be deteriorating, something which is unacceptable and in contravention to EU law, including our:
- native woodlands;
- sand dunes;
- marine habitats.
The report, which was presented to the EU Commission, says that 57% of our species are in a "favourable" status, but there remains no improvement for Atlantic Salmon, Freshwater Pearl Mussel or the White-clawed Crayfish - all of which are facing extinction.
Despite signing up to the EU’s Habitats Directive in the 1990s there has been no improvement in the status of biodiversity over this period.
Pádraic Fogarty of the Irish Wildlife Trust says that this represents "a colossal failure" of conservation efforts in Ireland.
He said: "Conservation has failed because the resources have not been given to state agencies (especially the National Parks and Wildlife Service) to implement management measures which are so urgently needed.
"Meanwhile vast amounts of public money is spent on sectors which continue to drive extinction, pollution and climate change – especially agriculture, industrial fishing, forestry and peat extraction.
"It is clear we need a new approach to move towards nature-friendly farming, rewilding to creating large native woodlands and restore boglands, and effective marine protected areas.”