The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association have expressed alarm at proposals in the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 which was launched at the end of May. As part of this proposal the EU Commission recommends an increase in the area of designated lands up to 30% (currently 13% in Ireland) and crucially the roll out of an additional designation titled strictly protected.
National President Colm O’Donnell stated “how the Biodiversity Strategy insists that at least 10% of the EU’s land base should have this protection and the Commission are proposing that areas of carbon rich ecosystems such as peatlands, wetlands and environmentally sensitive grassland become Strictly Protected status areas.”
In analysing this it is clear stated O’Donnell “that this new designation will be applied on our bogs and peatlands including drained peatlands that may have got EEC grant aid to drain them in the 70,s & 80,s.” The process to start delivering on this is he added “already underway through GAEC 2 of the CAP Strategic Plan that outlines details on how these peatlands can be restored.
In relation to overall land area, Ireland has continued the INHFA leader “a very high percentage of peatlands (over 20%) comparable to other EU countries and it is quite probable that, all of these lands will be covered by this designation as the 10% guide is for the overall land area of the EU. For counties throughout Connacht, Donegal and Kerry the percentage land area will be much higher than 20%.”
This designation type is continued the Farm Leader “the highest and most restrictive and where applied will necessitate the removal of all human activity. The current definition of Strictly Protected Areas can be viewed on the website of the International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN).
However, to put strictly protected into perspective with other designations under the ICUN the details outlined below may help:
• Category 1a is Strictly Protected Areas
• Category 1b – Wilderness area (example Serengeti National Park, Central Africa)
• Category 2 is National Parks
• Category 4 is the Natura 2000 Network, (SAC & SPA sites).”
In discussing its implication outside of agriculture O’Donnell stressed how “this designation will sterilise everything making it impossible to secure planning for dwelling houses or any further farm development. New business start-ups in these areas will cease and over time we will see many existing businesses being forced to close. Improvements to our roads and other vital infrastructure will slow down and in time cease and all of this will of course have knock on effects in the provision of essential services and where applied will accelerate a major population decline.”
The INHFA leader concluded by outlining how the organisation are already discussing these proposals with our politicians and community activists with a view to informing them pending a major public campaign to ensure this appalling vista does not become a reality.