Key topics for reaching the EU 2020 Biodiversity Target in Ireland
CAP has had no measureable impact on stemming the loss of biodiversity in Ireland’s farmed landscape, with farmland birds having experienced some of the largest population declines and range contractions of any bird species in Ireland. Annex 1 grassland habitats are also rapidly declining in Ireland. TheCAP provides the vehicle to protecting species rich grassland, High Nature Value Farming, and red and amber listed birds of conservation concern, but so far this opportunity is not being sought or particularly supported by Ireland.
On-going losses of breeding waders; breeding Curlew in particular have suffered very large declines likely to be in excess of 90% in Ireland in the last 25 years. The decline is due to a combination of threats that have resulted in habitat loss and habitat fragmentation. Despite the urgency in this case, there is no specific government strategy or plan in place to address this species conservation. Without urgent action, the species is likely to continue declining to a point beyond recovery.
The Birds and Habitats Directives as well as the EIA and SEA Directives contain requirements to protect species and habitats outside of designated areas. The ECJ (C418-04) refers to a need for MS’s to “make a serious attempt at protecting those habitats which lie outside the SPAs” and finds that Ireland has not “transposed that provision fully and correctly by taking suitable steps to avoid pollution or deterioration of the habitats lying outside the SPAs [and] Ireland must endeavour to take suitable steps to avoid pollution or disturbances of the habitats”. This case is still open.
In 2011 BirdWatch Ireland, funded by the national nature conservation authority, completed and launched a set of 10 species groups action plans for birds to protect declining bird populations in the wider countryside and address the range of implementation and site management challenges outlined by the ECJ. The plans garner commitment from farming, fishery, and recreational interests as well as commitment from state agencies and government departments. BirdWatch Ireland is now embarking on the implementation of all the plans with further government funding to coordinate this secured.