Ireland has a poor history of establishing nature reserves.
Under the EU Birds Directive Ireland has the smallest area designated as a ‘Special Protected Area‘ (3%). The EU average is 11.4%.
Under the EU Habitats Directive (as of 2010) Ireland had 10.7% of its land area designated as a Special Area of Conservation. This was the ninth smallest proportion of land area in the EU. The EU average was 13.7%.
In Ireland only 7% of listed habitats were considered to be in a favourable state according to the EPA in 2016.
What needs to be done:
- More land needs to be designated as a Special Protected Area or an area of conservation.
- Land owners should be encouraged to donate their land to land trusts for conservation.
- The government needs to consider purchasing land for conservation.
- Farmers should receive CAP payments in return for biodiversity restoration, whether they are ‘active’ farmers or not.
Land Donation for Conservation:
We want to encourage farmers and landowners to donate their land to a land trust where the original native woodlands, grasslands and wetlands will be restored. This will enable Ireland’s biodiversity to begin to recover and help Ireland to meet its climate change goals for the benefit of present and future generations.
We would like farmers to keep land trusts in mind when making out a will. We would recommend Green Sod Ireland – a land trust which conserves land and restores wild ecosystems. Land can also be donated to the World Land Trust.
Government Purchase of Land:
We also want the government to establish a voluntary land purchasing scheme where farmers who want to sell their land to the government for nature conservation can do so. One third of farmers are currently over 65 so this process should start now. These initiatives could be paid for by imposing levies on fossil fuel suppliers, airlines and other carbon-emitting industries.