An Taisce – the National Trust for Ireland – today welcomed the publication of the National Parks and Wildlife Service's latest national assessment of Ireland’s protected habitats. An Taisce is concerned by the report’s stark conclusions and calls upon Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, to create ambitious well funded agri-environment schemes to help alleviate the problem.

"Protecting species and habitats in the wider countryside is a particular challenge," stated David Garvey, Agri-environment Assistant with An Taisce. He added "The creation of ambitious, well-funded agri-environment measures under the reformed CAP will be very important in this regard. We strongly encourage Minister Coveney to exercise the flexibility given to him under the new CAP settlement to transfer 15% of the Pillar 1 (direct payments) budget into Pillar 2 (rural development) to help fund sustainable, conservation-friendly farming practices."

The status of the habitats assessed in the report is particularly worrying. Only 7% of protected habitats are in ‘good’ condition; 46% were assessed as 'inadequate' and 47% 'bad'. Continuing degradation of important, rare habitats, such as active raised bog, active blanket bog, lowland hay meadows, and machair remain on-going issues.

The picture in respect of protected species is slightly better. Roughly 50% of the species examined were found to be in 'good' status, while 10% are considered 'bad'. The freshwater pearl mussel is now said to be on the brink of extinction in Ireland. An Taisce commends NPWS for its recent work in creating new pond habitats for the natterjack toad, which also falls into the 'bad' status category.

On the positive side, notes Julia Lubbock, Natural Environment Assistant with An Taisce, “there is now more data than ever available on these threatened species and habitats. This is especially important in respect of those that were previously poorly understood."

Ms. Lubbock added, "Much work remains to be done to improve the implementation of the legal protection afforded to these habitats and species. This is a matter both of funding and of political will." She added "It is imperative that the Department of Agriculture works closely with the NPWS to ensure that we do not lose imperilled habitats such as hay meadows and iconic species such as the curlew and grey partridge, which are nearing extinction in Ireland."


For further information, please call:

Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce +353 87 2411995

Email: [email protected]

An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland