The formation of a citizens’ assembly on protecting and restoring Irish biodiversity will be proposed to cabinet by An Taoiseach Micheál Martin, according to the Government leader.

An Taoiseach told the Dáil on Wednesday that he thinks it is “absolutely critical that we move on this [biodiversity crisis] and move with speed and conviction”. He said he intends to do just that.

His commitment came following a question from Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan who said biodiversity, nature and wildlife right across the globe is in peril.

He said the impact of this is evident nowhere more so than in Ireland.

Red listed

O’Sullivan said climate change, habitat loss and destruction and illegal poisoning have all led to “a point where 54 of our bird species are now red listed”.

He explained that the red list classification means that these bird species are critically endangered.

We need to act now

“We have a situation where there has been an 81% loss in wetland species only over a 50-year period.

“We need to act now. We need to convene a citizens’ assembly now because we need to start addressing this biodiversity crisis straight away,” he said.

It is not yet known what form such a biodiversity citizens’ assembly might take and whether or not it would include representation from farming stakeholders.

Crucial time

Welcoming the commitment from An Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan said the citizens’ assembly couldn’t come at a more crucial time.

“We need the public’s voice at the heart of the national response to the biodiversity crisis, and this assembly will help us to do that.

“We’ve got a long way to go to alleviate the threats and pressures on biodiversity in Ireland and bring about the restoration and recovery of nature,” he said.

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