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Counting Ireland’s Nature: evidence of winners and losers in the fight to save our biodiversity

Waterford/Dublin, Wednesday 9th December 2015 — Today sees the launch of Ireland’s National Biodiversity Indicators, the first ever attempt to assess the health of Ireland’s nature. Biodiversity indicators tell us the changes taking place in the natural world through the use of a wide range of data.  They are designed to provide an overview of the trends in the health of species and their habitats on land and in the sea. The data also provides information on Irish society’s relationship with wildlife protection.  

For the first time in Ireland, the National Biodiversity Indicators summarise biodiversity information from a variety of sources. This information is critical to ensuring better planning and policy for the long term protection and survival of our wildlife. It is also necessary for reporting on   progress towards national and international conservation targets, as well as providing an important educational resource.  Ireland is only the 5th country in Europe to develop a suite of National Biodiversity Indicators.

Compiled by the National Biodiversity Data Centre from information provided by both governmental and non-governmental organisations, 60% of indicators show inadequate progress in delivering biodiversity conservation, 32% show progress has been made and another 8% are uncertain.  Overall, the indicators demonstrate that much more joined up action is needed if Ireland is to meet halt the decline of its wildlife and meet its international and national targets.  

According to Michael Starrett, CEO of The Heritage Council.  “What is significant and positive is that the indicators suggest that Ireland is beginning to show progress on the conservation of species protected under EU legislation. It is also showing increased public awareness about conservation and better decision making at local and national level that could help to halt the decline. This means that we know what works and what we need to do. What we lack is the will, the sense of urgency and a recognition of what is at stake at all levels of government. That recognition is needed now through real investment and an increase in capacity if we are to protect our natural heritage for future generations”.  

  • For species protected under EU law, 53% species have a favourable conservation status;
  • In an EU survey on public opinions on biodiversity, out of 1,000 Irish people surveyed 95% agreed that our well-being and quality of life is based upon nature and biodiversity;
  • Four Biodiversity Officers and 23 Heritage Officers with a biodiversity remit are now employed across 26 Local Authorities.

However, areas where Ireland still struggles to conserve nature include:

 

  • As of 2013, 91% of Irelands habitats designated under EU law are of ‘inadequate’ or ‘bad’ status;
  • The number high impact invasive alien species introduced into Ireland increased by 183% from 1961 to 2010;
  • Only 5% of Ireland’s 31,500 species have had their conservation status assessed. Of those, 20% are assessed as threatened.

According to Dr. Tomás Murray from the National Biodiversity Research Centre; “As a society, the indicators show that we’re becoming more aware of the value of biodiversity and to take decisions that will support their conservation. Unfortunately these changes are happening too slowly to have any significant impact on our habitats and species.”

The indicators are still under development and the current list will be reviewed in 2016 prior to the development of Ireland’s next National Biodiversity Plan. 

Contact:

Dr. Tomás Murray, National Biodiversity Data Centre

Mobile: +353-86-8558371

Landline: +353-51-306240

Email: tmurray@biodiversityireland.ie