The natural world gives us all a great deal of pleasure like this robin photographed in Sonairte earlier this week. Climate change and the loss of large numbers of species is threatening our very existence. Photo: Andy Spearman.
Louth and Meath County Councils are among eleven local authorities to have been awarded funding today to appoint biodiversity officers to drive local action for biodiversity conservation. This brings the total number of biodiversity officers in local authorities across Ireland to 25.
The new positions are expected to be filled by September 2023 while a full national rollout is expected to be completed within the next two years.
The programme is being delivered by the Heritage Council and the County and City Management Association (CCMA) with the support of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
The announcement follows a commitment in the Programme for Government to tackle the climate and biodiversity crisis, following the Dáil’s declaration of a Biodiversity Emergency in 2019, and the Citizens Assembly on Biodiversity Loss in 2022.
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In addition to developing a Biodiversity Plan for their area, the new biodiversity officers will advise the local authority on biodiversity related issues and the authority’s obligations in relation to protecting biodiversity. They will help local authorities to fully integrate biodiversity conservation into all of their policies, plans and actions, through training and provision of expert advice.
Welcoming today’s announcement, Deputy Fergus O’Dowd said Louth and Meath County Councils will have a key role in ensuring our national biodiversity policies integrate into our local communities.
“We have to continue to press the importance of biodiversity” he said. “The newly appointed Officers will be the go to person for proposals and implementation of our local and national strategies.
“I hope the officer will build awareness and engage on the ground with local residents on the benefits of Biodiversity.”
East Meath Fine Gael Councillor Sharon Tolan said she too was delighted with the news.
“We have important work to do here in Meath in order to protect, conserve and restore wildlife species and habitats, especially here in East Meath where we have a number of important and sensitive sites.
“Already biodiversity officers are making a significant difference in the local authority areas that already appointed one. I’m looking forward to working with our new Biodiversity Officer when he/she is appointed.”