Globally “An average of around 25% of species in assessed animal and plant groups are threatened, suggesting that around 1 million species (from a total of 8 million species) already face extinction.”
– Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, May 2019, from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Between 1970 and 2014 there was an overall decline of 60% in population sizes of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians.  A 60% decline in the human population would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China, Australia and New Zealand. – (World Wildlife Fund for Nature Living Planet 2018 Report).

The food system drives 65 – 80% of Biodiversity Loss by Land and Ocean Habitat Loss and Degradation (Agriculture and Fishing), and by Exploitation (Fishing, Hunting and Trade in Wildlife) as shown below.

In Ireland agricultural land occupies 70% of land area.  98% of this land is used for animal agriculture.  Peat and wetlands occupy 16%, and forestry 11%.  According to the EPA only 7% of the country’s land has a good environmental status. 

Overall on 90% of the land area of Ireland the ecosystems have been completely altered and the biodiversity eliminated. 

The below images show what it looks like when you move from a native forest to a commercial monoculture forest.

Data Mining for Biodiversity Prediction in Forests, UCC 2008
Data Mining for Biodiversity Prediction in Forests, UCC 2008

The below diagram shows the difference between a native grassland and an intensive monoculture grassland.
Teagasc, Managing your Grass (accessed May, 2019)

Monoculture grasslands with a scattering of monoculture forests, mostly on higher ground, dominate the Irish Landscape as shown below.

Screenshot from Google Maps

Because of these extensive ecosystem changes, Ireland has one of the lowest Biodiversity Intactness Indexes in the World.

From the RSPB State of Nature UK Report, 2016 – Ireland is ranked 203 out of 218

To restore Biodiversity you have to restore Ecosystems.

If we save the living environment, the biodiversity that we have left today, then we will also automatically save the physical environment. If we only save the physical environment, then we will ultimately lose both. — E. O. Wilson

50% of the Land for Nature – Biodiversity Benefits

Converting 2.8 Million hectares to Natural Ecosystems, native forests, grasslands, meadows, bog and wetlands would increase the area of land achieving good environmental status from 7% to 47%.  It would increase our area of forest from 11% to 35%.  Gradually we would transition away from monoculture forests to only native woodlands so that eventually over 50% of the Land would achieve Good Environmental Status.

For an overview of all the above issues, watch this talk by James O’Donovan: