Cork City Council chief executive Ann Doherty said the new roles, including the city’s first biodiversity officer, its first city ecologist, its first community climate action officer, and its first active travel officer, will help “strengthen its internal capabilities to address climate change”.
“Our city is changing and these posts are the next tier in bringing that change forward, and working towards achieving those goals that we all want and need to achieve,” she said.
The roles are being funded through a combination of internal council funding, and from the National Transport Authority, the Heritage Council, and the Department of Local Government.
The European Commission announced last April that Cork and Dublin are among 100 cities that have been selected to lead the way on climate action and smart cities initiatives across Europe by 2030.
The council appointed its first tree officer earlier this year and has now advertised for five new roles — an ecologist, a biodiversity officer, an active travel officer, a community climate-action officer, and an executive landscape architect — that it hopes will help it meet those ambitious targets.
The biodiversity officer will be based in the council’s parks and recreation department and will promote, manage, and coordinate biodiversity-related activities across the city.
The successful candidate will advise the council on biodiversity issues and on its obligations in relation to protecting biodiversity, including how it manages urban woodlands, wetlands, parks, verges, wild flora grasslands, and open areas in a biodiversity-friendly manner. They will also help to restore biodiversity and ecosystems in the city.
It will involve working with communities, businesses, schools, and all interested stakeholders and raising awareness of biodiversity in the city.
The new active travel officer will work in the council’s infrastructure delivery directorate on the delivery of new, upgraded, connected, safe and sustainable walking and cycling facilities in the city and in the docklands region.
The community climate action officer will work with local communities to promote local positive climate action on projects that will contribute to meeting Ireland’s climate targets.
The ecologist will be part of the council’s planning development management team and will help fulfil the council’s obligations under the Habitats Directives, as well as reporting on land-use plans and policies.
Green Party Councillor Oliver Moran welcomed the creation of the new roles and said it is a reflection of the shift in policy over the last two years in particular.
“I expect more jobs in these areas to come up in future," he said.
He said the active travel output from the infrastructure delivery directorate is set to ramp up significantly over the coming months and years.
“Some of their work is visible now, but as we ramp up investment in active travel, particularly in the context of BusConnects Cork, we will see a lot more,” he said.
At the September city council meeting, councillors had eight significant Part 8 active travel projects for decision — one of the single-largest packages of active travel projects on the agenda ever.
“We are going to see investment in this kind of thing on a massive scale over the coming months and years,” Mr Moran said.