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Irish Wildlife News

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Irish Wildlife News

🎉 We had a very successful event with Fair Seas in Letterkenny this week! A huge thanks to all attendees and our wonderful speakers.  It was the first in-person screening on Fair Seas: The Atlantic Northwest. An award-winning film that discusses the importance of the Atlantic Ocean through compelling interviews with individuals whose lives are intricately connected to its vast waters. The film underscores the critical need for establishing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), serving as a pivotal strategy to strengthen and safeguard our ongoing marine conservation efforts. If you missed this one, don’t worry, there will be more screenings! Just keep an eye in our newsletters for updates.

📅 We have another exciting event on next weekend, Saturday February 17th at 3:30pm in Tralee Wetlands Centre! The Nature Restoration Law and the Ecosystems It Will Benefit. It is sure to be an enlightening event as we have several wonderful speakers already lined up:

  • Gerard Skollard from the IWT Kerry branch will speak about some of the work being done in Kerry by IWT and other environmental groups.  

  • Sean Kelly, Member of the European Parliament will join us to talk about his ‘Bee Better’ campaign and the need for healthy pollinator populations.

  • Louise Overy  will discuss some of the work being done in the community around seagrass, oysters and elasmobranchs.

  • Grace Carr, Marine Advocacy Officer with the IWT will give an overview of the Nature Restoration Law and it’s importance to marine ecosystems.  

  • Fair Seas will also give an update on the national Marine Protected Area legislation and where we are in the process.

More speakers are to be confirmed so keep an eye on our social media and future newsletters for more details! The event requires registration to attend as we have limited numbers, you can register here.

📖 The Irish Sea Network (ISN) released its new report ‘Ecological Considerations for Marine Spatial Planning in the Irish Sea’ during the week. The ISN includes The Irish Wildlife Trust, SWAN and 11 other environmental organisations across Ireland and the UK. The group are urging their governments to take a collaborative and ecosystem based approach to marine spatial planning in the Irish Sea. READ THE LATEST BLOG AND THE FULL ISN REPORT HERE.

📰 Be sure to scroll to the end of this newsletter for some other articles from across the web that we’ve been reading this week!

 
Irish Wildlife Trust - Wild About Nature

Considering becoming a member of the Irish Wildlife Trust?

We value our members' support and have lots of exciting activities and initiatives planned for the year ahead. Your participation would make a big difference!

EXPLORE OUR MEMBERSHIP OPTIONS TODAY

Irish Sea Network Report

READ MORE HERE

Have you read the Biodiversity Action Plan?

We welcome the publication of Ireland’s 4th National Biodiversity Action Plan. In our 2022 submission on the draft National Biodiversity Action Plan we stated that “NBAPs numbers one, two and three have failed largely due to a lack of accountability, clear lines of responsibility, dedicated funding streams and policy coherence across legislation and government departments.” Thankfully, steps have been taken in the meantime to improve this situation somewhat, including the announcement of the Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund and the passing of the The Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2023 that has put this National Biodiversity Action Plan on a statutory footing. These significant changes should improve funding and policy coherence somewhat but the real test is now accountability and action. There are many positive actions in the NBAP and we need to see accountability for the delivery of these. We have previously called for the role of the National Biodiversity Forum to be strengthened to give independent oversight on the delivery of this important plan. Unfortunately, this has not been addressed in the plan.

On the marine front, we were disappointed that the important target of strict protection for 10% of our maritime area was not included in the plan. The EU Biodiversity Strategy states there is a need to recognise the importance of highly protected Marine Protected Areas and the spatial target should be at least 10% of the maritime area. We feel that this action should have been included within the plan and also within Ireland’s forthcoming MPA legislation.

The plan itself calls for a whole society approach to biodiversity protection. We know that communities across Ireland, the NGO network and you, our readers, are ready to take action to protect and restore biodiversity in Ireland. At the IWT, we will continue our role of holding the state accountable for part in this process. We encourage you to have a read through the plan and see what you think yourself. It is available here to download.

 

READ THE BIODIVERSITY ACTION PLAN

Photo of the Month

Voting for the January 2024 round of Photo of the Month has begun! So, make sure to cast your vote on Facebook. Find the January 2024 shortlist here! The photograph that gets the most ‘likes’ by Tuesday, February 13th at 6pm, will be announced as the winner on Wednesday and becomes the IWT Facebook Photo of the Month!

Congratulations to our December 2023 winner, Stephen Bolger, for his winning photo of waxwings, seen above! To see the full shortlist from December 2023, visit our Facebook.

To enter our February 2024 edition: please send your photo to [email protected] only as we can no longer accept Facebook entries. Please put "February Photo of the Month" in the subject line of the email. Please add the date (dd/mm/yyyy) and the location (e.g. Co. Kilkenny) where the picture was taken.

You can still of course share your amazing photos on our Facebook page; however to be considered for the Photo of the Month shortlist you must send it by email.

VISIT OUR FACEBOOK PAGE

Save the Skydancer!

The Hen Harrier is an iconic bird of Ireland’s uplands.


But this spectacular bird, known as Ireland’s ‘skydancer’ for its acrobatic courtship displays, is edging closer to extinction. The recently published 5th national survey of Hen Harriers for 2022 reveals shocking declines in this iconic bird of prey, with only 85 confirmed pairs of Hen Harrier recorded throughout the country. This spectacular species is at crisis point as hen harrier numbers declined by a third since 2015 and 59% since the first national survey 1998/2000.

A key reason for this collapse is the loss of heather and grassland habitats in our uplands due to forestry, wind energy development and agricultural intensification. Since the 1960’s, over 52% of the Hen harrier habitat within the six areas protected under EU law for the species has been lost to forestry. Since the 1990s 500 wind turbines have been constructed across the hills and mountains that supported the species core breeding grounds. ‘Protected areas’ alone hold in the region of 300 wind-turbines.

In response to concern from the European Commission the Irish government initiated a Hen Harrier Threat Response Plan (HHTRP) to address the decline in the species in 2013. Over a decade later the government’s plan is open for public consultation.

You can help save the Hen Harrier! Demand an ambitious and workable plan to protect this iconic species. Send the National Parks and Wildlife Service a submission on the HHTRP with our three key asks:

  • Protect all nationally important Hen Harrier breeding and wintering grounds from afforestation, forest management, wind energy development and other pressures.

  • Restore habitat across all nationally important breeding and wintering sites using clear restoration targets and timelines.

  • Guarantee long-term support for farmers through well-funded results-based schemes across all nationally important breeding and wintering grounds.

Submissions can emailed to [email protected] or in writing to: Hen Harrier Threat Response Plan Consultation, Agri-Ecology Unit, National Parks and Wildlife Service, 90 North King Street, Smithfield, Dublin D07 N7CV.

You can read a full list of our asks for the Hen Harrier Threat Response Plan here. This is clearly is a litmus test for the Government’s new National Biodiversity Action Plan.

 

If we are serious about protecting and restoring biodiversity, then putting in place a credible and workable plan to safeguard a threatened iconic species and restore the habitats it depends on is essential!

READ MORE ABOUT THIS CAMPAIGN

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Watch Our Latest Expert-Led Webinar On The Nature Restoration Law

What does EU Nature Restoration Law mean for agriculture and nature? | Webinar with Dr. Guy Pe'er

The webinar is led by Grace Carr, IWT Marine Advocacy Officer and Dr. Guy Pe’er. Dr. Pe’er is an expert in agroecology and conservation biology.  He is particularly interested in the intersection of science and policy, notably the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the EU Nature Restoration Law.

DISCOVER MORE WEBINARS

Upcoming Events

  • The Nature Restoration Law and the Ecosystems It Will Benefit

     

    • Join us at Tralee Wetland centre on Saturday the 17th February at 3.30pm for an event exploring some of the ecosystems and species found in Kerry and across Ireland. We will also discuss the importance of national and EU legislation, such as the Nature Restoration Law and the new Irish Marine Protected Area bill, in protecting and restoring these areas and the species that rely on them.

      Gerard Skollard from the IWT Kerry branch will speak about some of the work being done in Kerry by IWT and other environmental groups.  Sean Kelly, Member of the European Parliament will join us to talk about his ‘Bee Better’ campaign and the need for healthy pollinator populations. We will also hear from Louise Overy on some of the work being done in the community around seagrass, oysters and elasmobranchs. Grace Carr, Marine Advocacy Officer with the IWT will give an overview of the Nature Restoration Law and it’s importance to marine ecosystems.  Fair Seas will also give an update on the national Marine Protected Area legislation and where we are in the process.

      More speakers are to be confirmed so keep an eye on our social media and future newsletters for more details.  This event requires registration, so please register via the button below.

      Location: Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny. Port Road, F92 C8HD, Letterkenny, Ireland.

      Time & Date: February 7th, 3:30pm.

REGISTER ON EVENTBRITE

We’re so close to 50,000 signatures!

Add your name to call on Minister Darragh O’Brien and the Irish government to enact a strong marine protected area law without delay.

Life in Ireland’s ocean is at a crisis point. Marine biodiversity is rapidly declining and the numbers of Ireland’s iconic marine species are plummeting.

The now critically endangered angel shark has suffered a staggering 90% population decline since the early 1900s, while Ireland's seabirds are more endangered than ever, with the puffin under serious threat of extinction.

Existing protected area designations are not working. Recent assessments indicate that 65% of Ireland’s coastal habitat types are ecologically unhealthy. Many Irish bays and estuaries have deteriorated significantly in recent years despite falling within protected areas.

Failing to address marine biodiversity loss will guarantee long-term negative impacts on the health and sustainability of the ocean, as well as the social and economic health of communities across Ireland.

The Irish government needs to act with urgency and ambition by delivering a strong national marine protected area (MPA) law to properly protect, conserve, and restore its waters.

The government has committed to protecting 30% of our seas by 2030, but with the new legislation delayed, there is now a serious risk that these targets will not be met.

Ireland’s new MPA legislation must include:

Ambitious and binding targets committing Ireland to effectively protect 30% of its seas as MPAs by 2030, including a target of 10% “strictly” protected.

A robust management framework which clearly defines:

  • What will be protected;

  • How it will be protected, and;

  • Which government agencies are responsible for implementation and management.  

Community engagement at every stage of the MPA designation and management process, based on transparency, inclusiveness, and fairness among local, regional, and national stakeholders. Draft MPA legislation was promised in July 2023, but there is still no sign of it, despite the fact that 98% of Irish people surveyed want to see more marine protected areas.

Why do we need marine protected areas?

Marine protected areas allow nature to recover. They act as safe havens for a diverse range of marine life, from whales, dolphins, and basking sharks, to commercially harvested fish, crabs, and lobsters.  Around the world, well-managed MPAs have proven to restore marine life, store carbon, and rebuild fish populations. Studies have shown that fish biomass increases by up to 670% within protected areas. These fish then spill over into adjacent waters, bolstering local stocks and boosting fisheries catches. Human society relies heavily on a healthy ocean for the life-giving services it provides, not to mention that it generates over 50% of the oxygen we breathe.

Why does your support matter?

An overwhelming 76% of Irish people surveyed believe “a lack of political will” is what is getting in the way of creating effective marine protected areas.  Ireland was supposed to have 10% of its seas designated as marine protected areas by 2020 in line with national and EU commitments, yet nearly four years later, we are still missing that target, with only 9% of waters designated as protected. Even for the 9% of waters that are designated, there is little or no management in place.

We can't allow the government to delay this legislation any longer — the stakes are too high. We need your voice to make sure they know that people across the country are calling for this crucial marine protection law.

Add your name and call on Minister Darragh O’Brien and the Irish government to enact a strong marine protected area law that will safeguard the health and longevity of the marine environment for generations to come.

SIGN AND SHARE THE PETITION

What else is happening?

The Environmental Pillar and Birdwatch Ireland asking the public for their support to save the skydancing Hen Harrier from extinction.

To help, send the National Parks and Wildlife Service a submission on the HHTRP with our three key asks:

  • Protect all nationally important Hen Harrier breeding and wintering grounds from afforestation, forest management, wind energy development and other pressures.

  • Restore habitat across all nationally important breeding and wintering sites using clear restoration targets and timelines.

  • Guarantee long-term support for farmers through well-funded results-based schemes across all nationally important breeding and wintering grounds.

Submissions can emailed to [email protected] or in writing to: Hen Harrier Threat Response Plan Consultation, Agri-Ecology Unit, National Parks and Wildlife Service, 90 North King Street, Smithfield, Dublin D07 N7CV. READ MORE ABOUT THIS CAMPAIGN ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL PILLAR WEBSITE

Certificate in Nature Conservation and Interpretation

  • Leave No Trace, The NPWS, and Munster Technological University are accepting applications for the Special Purpose Level 6 Award until February 21st 2024. The course is aimed at those interested in pursuing a career in outdoor pursuits, conservation, ecology and wildlife biology. READ MORE AND APPLY HERE.

    The 2024 course,  beginning in March and running until December,  is a free NFQ level 6 accredited course and is available to anyone with a level 5 qualification or above. The course is designed using blended learning, modules will are being delivered online by MTU, and students will complete 8 weeks of place-based learning situated in a National Park, Nature Reserve or on a European Conservation Project.

    The course modules include;

    • Communications & visitor experience

    • Nature wildlife and habitats in Ireland

    • Work-based learning (which includes a €205 weekly stipend)

    • Sustainable handling of our wildlife & habitats

    • Practising nature interpretation

Novel aerial observations of a possible newborn white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) in Southern California.

  • A recent paper from Gauna & Sternes suggests they may have captured the first footage of a newborn “great white shark”.  The footage was captured July 9th, 2023. The publication of this footage is an exciting development, as much of the early life history and reproduction of the white shark remains unclear. It is yet to be determined whether the footage truly is a newborn. READ MORE ABOUT THIS EXCITING PUBLICATION HERE.

How nature can fight climate change — and how it can't

  • Mary Kate McCoy chats to Bronson Griscom, climate scientist at conservation international, about the potential for and limitations of “natural climate solutions.” READ MORE HERE.

Endangered seabird shows surprising individual flexibility to adapt to climate change

  • New research finds that individual behavioural flexibility and not evolutionary selection is driving the northward shift of Balearic shearwaters. The findings were revealed through a decade-long study which tagged individual birds. The results indicate that individual animals may have greater behavioural flexibility to respond to climate change impacts than previously thought. READ THE FULL STORY.

Atlantic Ocean circulation nearing ‘devastating’ tipping point, study finds

  • The circulation of the Atlantic Ocean is heading towards a tipping point that is “bad news for the climate system and humanity”, a study has found. The scientists behind the research said they were shocked at the forecast speed of collapse once the point is reached, although they said it was not yet possible to predict how soon that would happen. READ THE FULL GUARDIAN ARTICLE.

What turned Earth into a giant snowball 700m years ago? Scientists now have an answer

  • Australian geologists have used plate tectonic modelling to determine what most likely caused an extreme ice-age climate in Earth's history, more than 700 million years ago. The study, published in Geology, helps our understanding of the functioning of the Earth's built-in thermostat that prevents the Earth from getting stuck in overheating mode. It also shows how sensitive global climate is to atmospheric carbon concentration. READ MORE HERE.

 
 
 

 

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