The increased area of designated land for protected areas is crucial to the EU biodiversity strategy, but will require significant buy-in across the EU from agriculture and landowners, Minister for Heritage Malcolm Noonan has said.
Under the strategy, member states must legally protect at least 30% of the EU’s land and marine areas and 10% of that area must be strictly protected.
“The increased percentage of designated land for protected areas is crucial to the EU biodiversity strategy, but will require significant buy-in across the EU from agriculture and landowners.
“This will be one of the key challenges of implementing the strategy,” he said, in response to a parliamentary question from Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore this week.
Minister Noonan said the European Commission and member states will agree on criteria and guidance for identifying and designating additional areas, as well as further information on definition of protection, later this year.
“Member states will be obliged to demonstrate significant progress in designating the required new protected areas and integrating ecological corridors by [the] end [of] 2023.
“On this basis, the Commission will assess in 2024 whether new EU legislation or other further actions should be proposed,” he said.
He said that the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and Department of Agriculture “are co-operating on exploring the overlaps of the biodiversity strategy with the EU Farm to Fork policy in agriculture”.
He said they are also “examining the resources and funding which will be needed for restoration, and with regard to implications for farming, forestry, fisheries and the commercial activities associated with implementation of the strategy”.