The Government has launched a review of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to ensure that it is fit for purpose.

Minister for Heritage Malcolm Noonan, who is responsible for the NPWS, has launched a public consultation on the NPWS review and has published the terms of reference.

The NPWS is responsible for the country’s Natura 2000 land, designated land where 35,000 farmers are farming. It also has a range of farm plan schemes that it is responsible for, including a corncrake scheme.

The review was promised in the programme for government, with the Government giving a commitment to “review the remit, status and funding of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), to ensure that it is playing an effective role in delivering its overall mandate and enforcement role in the protection of wildlife”.

The review of NPWS thus will be aware of its full role in terms of not only nature conservation, biodiversity and enforcement of wildlife legislation but also in terms of development, management and presentation of national parks, nature reserves and restored peatlands. This includes their amenity use and importance to local communities, regional economic development, sustainable tourism and employment.


The first element of the review is online survey. All stakeholders will then be given the opportunity to make written submissions and key stakeholders will be invited to participate in online interviews.

The terms of reference were developed in consultation with the minister, independent chair of the review Prof Jane Stout and deputy chair Dr Mícheál Ó Cinnéide. The terms of reference will inform the future development of the NPWS to enable it to support Ireland’s biodiversity objectives in alignment with the UN decade on ecosystem restoration, the EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy and the forthcoming post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

Preparatory work is already under way on the review, which will comprise three distinct strands that will be undertaken concurrently:

  • Strand one will be focused upon stakeholder engagement (both internal and external).
  • The second strand will be focused upon reviewing NPWS’s capacity and resourcing.
  • The third strand will consist of a comparative desktop analysis of resources and structures of similar organisations in other jurisdictions and an overview of the role and responsibilities of other state bodies and their relationship with NPWS.
  • Minister Noonan said: “The protection, conservation and restoration of our biodiversity is of paramount importance and this review is key to ensuring that the NPWS is properly resourced, staffed and equipped to lead Ireland’s response to the biodiversity emergency.

    “More than ever before, there is a public demand for healthy nature – in our towns and cities, in our forests, bogs and agricultural landscapes, rivers, lakes and coastal waters.

    “Ensuring a fit-for-purpose NPWS is one of the actions that will help us meet that demand and all reap the benefits of biodiversity action for rural economies, tourism, public health and well-being, and for nature itself.”