24th March

Environment includes wildlife and water protection, Minister told

Campaigners in animal costumes and body paint handed in a 14,000 strong petition at Leinster House, calling for the Minister for Environment to be given resonsiblity for wildlife and water protection.

The petition was started in response to An Taoiseach Enda Kenny's proposed abolition of the Department of Environment and the disbandment of its functions across three departments.

FoE Environment

 

Denis Naughten has now  been given the  title, Minister for Environment despite not having responsiblity for key environment functions such as nature, wildlife protection and water quality.

Oisin Coghlan, Director of Friends of the Earth says it wouldhave been "absurd" for Ireland to be one of only two European countries without a Minister for Environment.

"But it's still absurd that he doesn't have responsibility for wildlife and water."

Oonagh Duggan, Policy Officer of BirdWater Ireland said that this was not the "joined up" approach to environmental policy promised by government.

"Wildlife and nature protection is with Heather Humphreys [Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht]; water quality is with Simon Coveney [Housing, Planning, Local Government] and air pollution with Denis Naughten. 

"We will continue to press for the reintegration of all the functions that are traditionally associated with the environment into a single department."

Pointing to climate change, Fintan Kelly, An Taisce, said the environmenal challanges ahead were "unprecedented.

"Climate change and global biodiversity loss are the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced. Ireland must play its role, and to do so we need a strong Department of Environment under strong leadership."

Bees are essential because they are very important pollinators of plants. They help pollinate both crops and native plants, making them of huge economic and ecological importance to Ireland.

There are 101 bee species in Ireland. Nineteen of these species are bumblebees, and more than half of these bumblebee species are in decline.

A regional Red Data List of bees has been produced and tells us which bee species are in most danger in Ireland. Six species are critically endangered (CR), 7 are endangered (EN), 16 are vulnerable (VU) and 13 are near threatened (NT). Sadly, three bee species have become extinct in Ireland within the last 80 years. Despite lots of species being in serious decline, there are no protected bee species here.

Bees are declining because we are making them homeless by using most of the landscape for farming, forestry and housing and not leaving enough natural habitats for them to live. Climate change threatens many species but is a worse threat for those species that are habitat specialists, as the habitats they rely on may disappear or shift position too rapidly for the bees to adapt to the change.

National Biodiversity Data Centre 

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