*The biodiversity garden in Shannon. Photograph: Arthur Ellis

A NEW BIODIVERSITY OFFICER is to be appointed in Co Clare.

Clare County Council is one of ten local authorities awarded funding for the new position in a national roll-out of officers to deliver and drive local action for biodiversity.

The programme is being delivered by the Heritage Council and the County and City Management Association (CCMA) with the support of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

Each officer will have a wide variety of responsibilities. They will be required to develop and implement a county biodiversity plan, advise the local authority on biodiversity related issues and the authority’s obligations in relation to protecting biodiversity, establish a county biodiversity forum, assist the local authority departments in integrating biodiversity into their actions and policies through training and supporting information dissemination and promote new biodiversity initiatives based on best conservation practice.

Once appointed, this will bring the total number of biodiversity officers employed in local authorities around the country to 14 with funding for a further 15 officers to be provided, as part of efforts to take greater action for biodiversity at the local level. A full national rollout is expected to be completed in the next three years. The scheme will be evaluated in 2025 to inform future provision.

Along with Clare, local authorities in Cork City, Galway County, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Offaly, Skigo, Westmeath and Wicklow will get the new officers. Galway City Council, Fingal County Council, Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council and Dublin City Council have already appointed biodiversity officers.

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, TD (GP) said the addition of the next tranche of biodiversity officers was “fantastic to see”. He stated, “These ten new posts, and the funding for a further 15 that I announced as part of Budget 2023, will have an enormous impact on the ground in helping to deliver action for nature at the local level. The declaration by the Dáil of a biodiversity emergency in 2019 sent a clear signal of how seriously we as a country need to take the biodiversity challenges ahead, and our objectives in the Programme for Government demonstrate this urgency”.

Chairperson of The Heritage Council, Martina Moloney outlined, “The vision for biodiversity, as stated in the National Biodiversity Action Plan, is that biodiversity in Ireland is valued, conserved, restored and sustainably used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people. This is a vision shared by the Heritage Council and our work in ensuring the continued progression of the Pilot Biodiversity Officer Programme is a reflection of our own objectives”.

Local authorities will “significantly strengthen” efforts ““to protect and encourage appreciation of biodiversity in our areas. This resource focus indicates the seriousness with which we take the biodiversity challenge and our ambition to integrate biodiversity considerations across all of our operations. Addressing biodiversity loss, restoring ecosystems and employing nature-based solutions will also form important elements in our climate action plans,” Moira Murrell, Chair of the CCMA Rural Development, Community, Tourism, Culture & Heritage Committee maintained.

In a statement to The Clare Echo, Senator Roisin Garvey (GP) highlighted how she hosted Junior Minister Noonan in the county three times since he took on the role. “Having a Biodiversity Officer for our county will not only help protect the wonderful biodiversity we already have but will help us protect, enhance and increase the county’s biodiversity through having an expert to advise the County Council and communities who more and more want to help with the biodiverstiy emergency we are facing,” she commented.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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