Approval for ten new biodiversity officers to bolster local action for nature
Date Released: Thursday, October 13, 2022
Ten local authorities have been awarded funding to appoint biodiversity officers to deliver and drive local action for biodiversity.
The programme is being delivered by the Heritage Council and the County and City Management Association (CCMA) with the support of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
The new biodiversity officers will have a wide variety of responsibilities. Among other things, they will be required to:
- Develop and implement a county biodiversity plan
- Advise the local authority on biodiversity related issues and the authority’s obligations in relation to protecting biodiversity
- Establish a county biodiversity forum
- Assist local authority departments in integrating biodiversity into their actions and policies through training and supporting information dissemination
- Promote new biodiversity initiatives based on best conservation practice
Once appointed, this will bring the total number of biodiversity officers employed in local authorities around the country to 14*, with funding for a further 15 officers to be provided, as part of efforts to take greater action for biodiversity at the local level. A full national rollout is expected to be completed in the next three years.
Today’s move represents a further practical step in the acceleration of the State’s response to the biodiversity crisis and follows several measures taken by Government to address biodiversity loss this year. This includes the publication of the 4th National Biodiversity Action Plan, which is currently out for public consultation, as well as Heritage Ireland 2030 published in February this year.
*See list of local authorities to appoint new biodiversity officers in ‘Notes for editors’ below.
Commenting on the development, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, TD, said:
“It’s fantastic to see the next tranche of Biodiversity Officers are now being recruited around the country. These ten new posts, and the funding for a further 15 that I announced as part of Budget 2023, will have an enormous impact on the ground in helping to deliver action for nature at the local level. The declaration by the Dáil of a biodiversity emergency in 2019 sent a clear signal of how seriously we as a country need to take the biodiversity challenges ahead, and our objectives in the Programme for Government demonstrate this urgency. Today’s announcement is another step in the right direction and it reflects my commitment to ensuring that these objectives are fulfilled and that all local authorities have a sufficient number of heritage and biodiversity officers among their staff complement.”
Chairperson of The Heritage Council, Martina Moloney, said:
“The vision for biodiversity, as stated in the National Biodiversity Action Plan, is that biodiversity in Ireland is valued, conserved, restored and sustainably used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people. This is a vision shared by the Heritage Council and our work in ensuring the continued progression of the Pilot Biodiversity Officer Programme is a reflection of our own objectives.”
Virginia Teehan, Chief Executive of The Heritage Council, said:
“The most important element in continuing to progress this essential programme has been our collaboration with the CCMA, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. It is thanks to our shared vision and objectives that within the next few months, more local authorities, and the country as a whole, will be able to benefit from the expertise, enthusiasm and determination of dedicated biodiversity officers.”
Moira Murrell, Chair of the CCMA Rural Development, Community, Tourism, Culture & Heritage Committee said:
“The County and City Management Association is delighted to support this important Biodiversity Officer Programme. The expertise Biodiversity Officers bring will significantly strengthen local authority efforts to protect and encourage appreciation of biodiversity in our areas. This resource focus indicates the seriousness with which we take the biodiversity challenge and our ambition to integrate biodiversity considerations across all of our operations. Addressing biodiversity loss, restoring ecosystems and employing nature-based solutions will also form important elements in our climate action plans.”
The scheme will be evaluated in 2025 to inform future provision.
Notes for editors
The following local authorities are scheduled to appoint a biodiversity officer in the coming months:
- Clare County Council
- Cork City Council
- Galway County Council
- Kerry County Council
- Kildare County Council
- Kilkenny County Council
- Offaly County Council
- Sligo County Council
- Westmeath County Council
- Wicklow County Council
The following local authorities have already appointed a biodiversity officer:
- Galway City Council
- Fingal County Council
- Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council
- Dublin City Council