Views sought on Irish enviro-crisis

The Irish government has invited discussion and comments on its proposed plans to manage key environmental issues in a report which claims the country is 'catastrophically' close to irreversible damage.

Environment minister John Gormley took the unorthodox step of publishing a draft of the country’s national biodiversity plan last Tuesday (5 October) in a move designed to foster input from interested organisations and members of the public.

The plan – the second of its kind Ireland has produced – is grand in its breadth and scope; detailing how the country will tackle major issues including endangered species, destruction of natural habitat and pollution.

It claims that if the Ireland’s current environmental trends continue, the ability for local ecosystems to sustain themselves and provide resources for the country as a whole could be “catastrophically” and irreversibly reduced.

Indeed, Minister Gormley commented that it is the alarming rate of change across Ireland’s natural landscape which led to the development of this second report, so soon after 2002’s inaugural national biodiversity plan.

“Much has changed since the first plan was published,” Minister Gormley said. “For example, it did not specifically mention climate change.

“Since 2002, there is a greater amount of even more compelling evidence that significant changes are occurring in our environment, many undoubtedly as a result of human activity.

“Many species have been lost and many more are under serious threat. We need to arrest these changes and restore our ecosystems where feasible.”

The new plan has been in development since 2008 and has already gone through extensive public consultation and government review. However, Minister Gormley claimed, it was the responsibility of everyone – not just government – to manage the country’s biodiversity.

“Where we can’t reverse what has happened or replace what has been lost, then we need to adopt a proper strategy of adaptation,” added the minister.

“However, securing the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity will involve a programme of actions far broader than just traditional nature conservation activities.

“Everybody, individuals, organisations and decision-makers need to step up to the mark. Time for making the changes needed is definitely running out.”

Interested parties are invited to submit written observations, no later than 22 October 2010. For more information, visit or

Sam Plester

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