It is not just the EU that are influencing environmental conservation and protection in Ireland. The Irish government, have created and adopted their own policies. One such policy is the Irish National Biodiversity Action Plan. First launched in 2002, as part of the 1976 Wildlife Act, its 91 Actions integrate all other European and international conservation directives (DAHGI, 2002). The National Biodiversity Action Plan defines three levels at which biodiversity conservation can be considered:
- Ecosystem Diversity
- Species Diversity
- Genetic Diversity
National Biodiversity Action Plan 2011-2016
A second, amended National Biodiversity Action Plan was introduced for the 2011-2016 period with 102 Actions focusing on, not only biodiversity, but also ecosystem services (DAHGI, 2010). Four categories of ecosystem services are defined within the legislation. The first of these is provisioning services, such as food, the second is regulating services, such as climate change, thirdly is supporting services, like nutrient cycling, and finally, cultural services, like recreation. This piece of legislation grants environmental protection both within and outside of designated protected areas.
This legislation demands that environmental protection and conservation is made a priority in governmental decisions. It further aims to increase base knowledge of current environmental issues and threats, promote public awareness and participation in conservation, and to represent Ireland’s contribution to international conservation efforts. A third Action Plan will begin formulation in 2016, to come into effect in 2017, taking into account the 6 target areas of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. These 6 targets are:
- Full Implementation of all EU Directives
- Maintain and restore ecosystem services
- Increase the contribution of agriculture and forestry to maintain and enhance biodiversity
- Ensure the sustainable use of fisheries resources
- Combat invasive, alien species
- Help avert global biodiversity loss
Through correct and effective implementation of these Action Plans, the state of the Irish coastal marine environment, and the environment in general, will continue to improve. However, without the efficient enforcement of these plans, the effectiveness could be diminished. This is where organisations like the National Parks and Wildlife Service are vitally important for continued conservation of Irish biodiversity.