Soil

Soil erosion and degradation are serious problems that are causing declines in soil fertility and productivity worldwide. Improved land management techniques and agricultural practices are needed to protect the health of soils, improve agricultural yields and combat climate change.

The EU's Renewable Energy Directive provides that Member States must (collectively) generate 20% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. For transport the figure is set at 10%. On the surface this may seem to be a positive development. However, the policy is raising food prices, driving land grabs, and due to Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) may in fact be leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions. The root of the problem is that fuel crops are by default classified as renewable.

As the National Parks & Wildlife Service explains, "Ireland is home to 28 species of land mammal, over 400 species of birds, more than 4,000 plant species and over 12,000 species of insect. If we want all of this to survive, we must ensure that there are enough suitable areas for all these species to flourish.

An Taisce has dedicated significant work to the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The CAP provides support to European agriculture and rural development. The scale of this support is enormous, with the fund comprising roughly one third of the entire EU budget (the 2014-2020 CAP budget is worth about €350bn) compared to just 0.2% for nature conservation.

7th October 2013

An Taisce – the National Trust for Ireland – today expressed serious concern at Minister Coveney’s recent announcement that there will be no rollover of REPS and no new AEOS entrants in 2014.

The Minister claimed that this would achieve “national and European savings of about €25 million”. However, An Taisce believes that these savings mean that thousands of farmers implementing environmentally beneficial schemes and sustainable forms of agriculture will lose, in some cases, half of their total farm income in 2014.

In 2010 the Department of Agriculture published a major strategy called Food Harvest 2020, which sets out a range of objectives for the entire agricultural sector for the next decade. The strategy, if carried out, will have negative consequences for Ireland's environment. A Strategic Environmental Assessment was reluctantly carried out by the Department of Agriculture after extensive lobbying by environmental groups, including An Taisce.

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