Minister Noonan calls for everyone to connect with ‘Natura in your Neighbourhood’ during National Biodiversity Week

Date Released: Monday, May 20, 2024

  • National Biodiversity Week celebrates Ireland’s more than 600 ‘Natura 2000’ sites,
  • Events across NPWS-owned ‘Natura 2000’ sites, National Parks and Nature Reserves will bring staff, wildlife enthusiasts and citizen scientists together
  • Increased activity reflects growing public appetite and interest in nature and biodiversity

Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, is calling on members of the public to get to know the “Natura in your Neighbourhood” during National Biodiversity Week. The National Parks and Wildlife Service is supporting this call by showcasing some of the protected areas that make up Ireland’s ‘Natura 2000 Network’, the work that is being done to protect them, and the people behind it all.

Throughout the week NPWS staff around the country will host guided walks, dawn chorus events such as ‘bird and breakfast’, and talks from Conservation Rangers who protect nature and wildlife on a daily basis. From Glengarriff to Glenveagh there are Bat walks, Chough Chats, Junior Ranger events, tree trails, Woodland Walks and Pop Up Conservation Corners – even a woodland themed Biodiversity Bake Off. Community BioBlitzes will also bring ecologists, wildlife enthusiasts and citizen scientists together to carry out wildlife surveys over the course of one day.

Minister for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan TD said:

“Most of us live near a Natura 2000 site, so this week I’m encouraging everyone to learn about the precious places for nature in their neighbourhood and get outdoors and enjoy them. Ireland’s precious natural heritage can be found in cities, towns and villages, as well as farms, forests and coasts, and of course in National Parks and Nature Reserves. Many Natura sites are in public ownership and are easily accessible, while others are privately owned and require permission to access. The NPWS is hosting events across the country that anyone can take part in. It’s the perfect time to immerse yourself in the natural world and celebrate the wonderful diversity of life on our doorsteps.”

Natura 2000 Day, which falls on Tuesday May 21st, seeks to highlight Europe’s most precious places for nature. These are sites that have been designated for species or habitats that are important at a European level under either the Habitats Directive, which are known as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), or the Birds Directive, which are known as Special Protection Areas (SPAs).

Over 600 of them are in Ireland. According to the European Commission, 65% of people in Europe live five kilometres from one of the region’s 27,000 Natura 2000 sites.

Niall Ó Donnchú, Director General with the NPWS said:

“Our Natura sites are vital organs of our living systems. Together, they form the latticework which binds us to nature and nature to us. A fracture in any part of that living matrix undermines the entire. In protecting nature, we protect ourselves.”

National Biodiversity Week follows the launch earlier this year of Ireland’s fourth National Biodiversity Action Plan (2023-2030). The plan sets the national biodiversity agenda for the period 2023-2030 and aims to deliver transformative change to the ways in which we value and protect nature. While the majority of actions within the plan are assigned to public bodies, the National Biodiversity Action Plan is a whole of society initiative.  

Other important dates during National Biodiversity Week include International Biodiversity Day on Wednesday 22nd May. The theme of the day this year is ‘Be Part of the Plan’. European Day of Parks takes place on May 23rd and celebrates the creation of National Parks around Europe.

Further information

For events in your area, visit Biodiversity Week.

The NPWS Protected Sites Map Viewer shows SACs and SPAs across the country.

Natura 2000 is a European network of sites designated for the protection of threatened species and habitats, on both land and sea. The Natura 2000 network, compromising over 27,000 sites, is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world. The Natura network of sites is comprised of Special Protection Areas (SPAs), established under the EU Birds Directive, and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), established under the Habitats Directive.