Minister Noonan launches new National Biodiversity Action Plan

Date Released: Thursday, January 25, 2024

  • Ireland’s 4th NBAP aims to protect and restore nature across the country
  • It is the first biodiversity plan to be backed by legislation, with legal requirements for public bodies
  • Actions include expanding National Parks, tackling invasive species, strengthening efforts on wildlife crime and working with communities
  • Key recommendations from the Citizen’s Assembly on Biodiversity Loss are also addressed 

Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, has today (Thursday, January 25th) launched ‘Actions For Nature’ – Ireland’s new National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) at the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, Dublin. Biodiversity is fundamental to societal wellbeing and economic development, and its decline – both globally and in Ireland – poses serious threats to people. This collaborative plan sets out how Ireland will reverse these declines up to 2030. 

Speaking at the launch, Minister Noonan said: 

“Nature is in trouble, but I believe that it can recover. In my time as Minister, I have visited projects and initiatives the length and breadth of the country; walked fields, hillsides, bogs, rivers, urban parks, community gardens, coastlines and hedgerows. I have met the most extraordinary people bringing passion, expertise and dedication to bear on the protection and restoration of habitats and wildlife. What they need more than anything is to be empowered to keep going, and do more.

I was determined that this National Biodiversity Action Plan would be an ‘impact plan’ and, combined with the people power I’ve encountered on my travels, the new statutory footing for the NBAP and the €3.15bn Climate and Nature Fund, I believe that it will be. That sense of the possible is what I want people to take from this. We have the passion, we have the knowledge, we have the resources, and now, we have the plan. We can and will turn the tide on nature loss and make change happen – in the skies, under the water, and on the ground, where it matters.”

Taking an ‘all-of-Government, all-of-society’ approach, the NBAP aims to meet urgent conservation and restoration objectives across Ireland’s terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems and secure nature’s contributions to people, while enhancing the evidence base for action and strengthening Ireland’s efforts on international initiatives.

Underpinned by an unprecedented focus on accountability, resourcing and implementation, its 194 actions include commitments to: 

  • expand and enhance our network of National Parks, 
  • further strengthen action on wildlife crime, 
  • deliver on obligations to conserve our most precious habitats and species, 
  • strategically target efforts on invasive species, 
  • develop a national Nature Restoration Plan, 
  • increase collaboration on nature-friendly farming, 
  • review nature governance across the State, and
  • explore the ways in which the rights of nature can be formally recognised. 

This is Ireland’s fourth National Biodiversity Action Plan and the first to be published on a Statutory basis, under the Wildlife Amendment Act 2023. The legislation also requires selected public service bodies to integrate biodiversity into their plans, policies and programmes, and report to the Minister on progress. 

The development of the National Biodiversity Action Plan has been led by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in collaboration with key stakeholders across government and wider society. This collaborative approach is vital given the multi-faceted, multi-sectoral nature of the threats and pressures on the natural world: research has shown that agriculture, forestry, invasive species, resource extraction and development are having significant impacts on biodiversity in Ireland. Many of these issues were addressed in the landmark report by the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss. The NBAP seeks to address a number of its key recommendations. 

Niall Ó Donnchú, Director General with the National Parks and Wildlife Service said:

“In drawing up this together, we listened carefully to a wide range of views and perspectives from government departments, public sector bodies, civil society, and the general public. This was essential to gaining a shared understanding of the extent of biodiversity loss, and to developing a national response to addressing it. Following a phase of renewal, the National Parks and Wildlife Service is ready to lead on the ambition of the Plan. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners, and to be accountable and transparent in doing so. This is our shared plan, and its success depends on all of us taking action for nature. If we give nature a chance it will give us a second chance. Let’s not waste that!”

Dr Deirdre Lynn, Assistant Director, Science Advice and Research, National Parks and Wildlife Service, who led the development of the plan said: 

“This Plan will provide us with the focus we need to step up action to conserve and restore biodiversity and contribute to our national, regional and global targets. Millions of years of evolution are at stake.”

In recent decades, scientists across the world have been documenting increasingly worrying declines in biodiversity. In Ireland, almost a third of our EU-protected species and 85% of EU-protected habitats are in unfavourable status, over half of native Irish plant species have declined in the last 20 years and 30% of our semi-natural grasslands have been lost in the past 10 years. Over 20% of breeding and 52% of key wintering bird species are reported to have short term declining trends. Extinction threatens 48 species living in the Irish marine environment, including fish, crustaceans, shellfish and invertebrates. It is imperative that we arrest these declines and start to process of regeneration.  

The press release can also be viewed at Ireland’s 4th National Biodiversity Action Plan