Ireland failing to reach Convention on Biological Diversity targets

13th May 2019
Press Release

Just days after the Government declared a climate and biodiversity emergency, Ireland’s 6th National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has been published by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), and is a damning indictment of the state of biodiversity in Ireland, with insufficient progress reported across most targets.

The Convention on Biological Diversity is an international legally-binding treaty, which includes the requirement to conserve biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components. [1]

Biodiversity loss poses a huge global threat to our livelihoods, food security, health, and quality of life, and a recent UN report on biodiversity highlighted that nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history, with accelerated rates of species extinctions. [2]

Ireland is not immune to this mass extinction of species. The National Biodiversity Centre found that Irish butterfly populations have plummeted by a rate of 12% over the past decade, and a third of all Irish bee species could be extinct by 2030. [3] Approximately 50% of our freshwaters are polluted, with concomitant declines in our most sensitive aquatic species such as salmon, over 90% of our protected habitats are classified as being of ‘unfavourable conservation status’ [4], and overfishing and aquaculture continue to wreak havoc on our marine habitats.

The NPWS’s report clearly points the finger at agriculture, forestry and aquaculture, and the ambitious growth targets set for these by the Foodwise 2025 strategy [5], in combination with the lack of sufficient environmental safeguards. It is essential that the expansion of Irish agriculture, particularly bovine agriculture, combined with the current model of non-native conifer forestry, mismanagement of peatlands and overfishing are rigorously critiqued in light of the newly declared climate and biodiversity emergency.

An Taisce welcome the Dáil’s decision to convene a Citizens’ Assembly to examine our response to biodiversity loss as a logical next step towards addressing this issue, and call for this to be urgently prioritised. The Irish Government must recognise that the status quo cannot remain if we are to tackle our biodiversity emergency, and as the NPWS report itself outlines, a ‘transformational change’ is required. Difficult decisions will have to be taken, and fundamental changes will have to be implemented, because business as usual is costing us the earth.

Dr. Elaine McGoff, Natural Environment Officer with An Taisce said:

‘You cannot tackle an emergency with inaction. The declaration of an emergency is meaningless without concrete and swift measures.’

‘How many reports of catastrophic biodiversity loss do we need before we recognise that the current system is failing us, and undermining our very survival? We need immediate policy changes to reverse Ireland’s appalling biodiversity record’

‘The Government cannot take the necessary action without upsetting vested interest groups, it’s a bitter pill which they simply have to swallow. The needs of the many must outweigh the economic interests of the few, and the people of Ireland deserve a government who are not afraid to implement the changes necessary to safeguard our future’.

ENDS

For further information, contact:
Dr, Elaine McGoff, Natural Environment Officer, An Taisce: +353 1 707 7063
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce. Tel: +353 87 241 1995
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland

Notes:

  1. The Convention on Biological Diversity is an international legally-binding treaty, and was signed by 150 government leaders, including Ireland at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. The Convention sets out three main goals: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources. As a party to the CBD, Ireland are required to submit national reports on the measures taken, and their effectiveness in meeting the objectives of the Convention. https://www.un.org/en/events/biodiversityday/convention.shtml
  2. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/nature-decline-unprecedented-report
  3. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/science/a-third-of-all-bee-species-in-ireland-could-be-extinct-by-2030-1.3543104
  4. https://www.npws.ie/article-17-reports-0/article-17-reports-2013
  5. Food Wise 2025 sets out a ten year plan for the agri-food sector, and identifies ambitious and challenging growth projections for the industry over the next ten years https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/foodwise2025/

An Taisce - Protecting Ireland’s heritage, safeguarding its future

An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.