The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is part of the Heritage Division of the Department of Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht. They oversee areas of:
- Policy and management of Parks and Reserves, Nature Service strategy, Finance and regional operations including enforcement
- Wildlife Acts and EU Directives, “Licensing provisions under the Wildlife Acts, Modernisation of property management, Policy on residential properties in national parks and the Departments Development Applications Unit”
- Peatland Policy, Turf compensation and relocation schemes, and Land Designation and Restoration
- “Scientific Support, Biodiversity policy and international issues, CITES and exotic species, Agri-Environment policy and schemes, Marine and aquaculture issues, Education Service and Data management” (www1)
South West Cork comes under the Southern Division of NPWS, where the Science and Biodiversity Department perform crucial work in the areas of Marine and Habitats, Conservation Systems and Informatics, and Species and Aquatics. Without this work, Irish ecosystems would be without the level of protection said to be needed by governments, scientists and the public alike. NPWS secure the conservation of a 38 whole range of ecosystems (including the marine) by maintaining and enhancing the native flora and fauna of Ireland. They are key in the designation of SACs and SPAs.
They ensure proper implementation and enforcement of EU Policy and Directives, and the ratification of international conventions and agreements. Furthermore, without NPWS it would be increasingly difficult to maintain, manage and develop National Parks and Reserves, like Lough Hyne. Through education, public outreach, and stakeholder engagement, NPWS are also helping to raise awareness for the importance of biodiversity and natural heritage. It is due to the rigorous workings of government and international policy makers, through services like NPWS that the mounting pressures on the coastal marine environment can be alleviated. Without correct definition and enforcement of environmental policy and legislation, conservation of biodiversity and protection of valuable ecosystem services would not be possible