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Ireland to join global effort to designate a third of the Earth as a protected area

Ireland to join global effort to designate a third of the Earth as a protected area

Ireland is to join in an international effort to designate a third of the Earth as a protected area within a decade in a push to halt the spiralling losses of habitats and species.  Heritage Minister Malcolm Noonan will confirm Ireland’s participation in the ‘30 by 30’ endeavour when he takes part in the One Planet Summit hosted by France today.

Mr Noonan and Biodiversity Minister Pippa Hackett will take part remotely in the summit, which is a forerunner to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to be held later in the year.

Around 50 countries have committed to a High Ambition Coalition on Nature and People as part of the summit.

The key ambition is to protect 30pc of the earth’s land and seas by 2030. Participants also pledge to promote farming methods that protect ecosystems, commit funding to biodiversity and, in light of Covid-19, to focus on the links between deforestation, species and human health.

“The current health crisis posed by Covid-19 has challenged the scope and ability of countries to act collectively for nature and biodiversity,” Mr Noonan said.  “It has also, however, led to a re-evaluation of humanity’s relationship with nature, particularly in the context of how future zoonotic pandemics can be avoided.  “Facing up to and addressing the damaging loss of biodiversity is vital if we are to do this,” he said.

The move by Government to make the pledge will raise fears among farmers over controversial land designations.  IFA President Tim Cullinan recently emphatically rejected further land designations and told Minister Noonan that the restrictions were having a detrimental effect on rural areas.  The IFA President said any increase in designated land will be strongly resisted by farmers. “The Programme for Government has no mention of more designations and IFA will be holding the Government to account on this,” Mr Cullinan said.  He also pointed out that IFA had commitments from previous Ministers for Heritage Josepha Madigan and Heather Humphries that there would be no more designations.

A shocking report from the Worldwide Fund for Wildlife last year showed wildlife populations had plummeted by almost 70pc in 50 years.  Pádraic Fogarty of the Irish Wildlife Trust welcomed the minister’s comments but pointed out that just 13pc of Ireland’s land and 2.5pc of the seas were designated as ‘protected’.  He said the commitment to the coalition must be backed by creating Marine Protected Areas, restore bogs, rivers and forests, and to create a nature-friendly farming system.  “We’ve had decades of talking so we really need to start acting in a way that reflects the state of emergency declared by the Dáil nearly two years ago,” he said. “We’re still waiting on delivery of commitments made in the 1990s and 2000’s, which were to have seen extinction and pollution as a thing of the past.”

Source – Irish Independent

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