Approval for 11 biodiversity officers to bring national total to 25

11 local authorities have been awarded funding to appoint biodiversity officers.

11 local authorities have been awarded funding to appoint biodiversity officers to drive local action for biodiversity conservation. This will bring to 25 the total number of biodiversity officers in local authorities across Ireland, following last year’s approval for the appointment of a further ten officers.

The 11 new positions are expected to be filled by September 2023 while a full national rollout is expected to be completed within the next 2 years.

*See list of local authorities to appoint new biodiversity officers in ‘Notes for editors’ below.

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.

The announcement follows a commitment in the Programme for Government to tackle the climate and biodiversity crisis, following the Dáil’s declaration of a Biodiversity Emergency in 2019, and the Citizens Assembly on Biodiversity Loss in 2022.

In addition to developing a Biodiversity Plan for their area, the new biodiversity officers will advise the local authority on biodiversity-related issues and the authority’s obligations in relation to protecting biodiversity. They will help local authorities to fully integrate biodiversity conservation into all of their policies, plans and actions, through training and the provision of expert advice.

Commenting on the development, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, TD, said:

“The appointment of another 11 biodiversity officers is further evidence of our commitment to addressing the biodiversity emergency and fulfilling our objectives as set out in the Programme for Government. These biodiversity experts are exactly the people we need at local authority level to engage local communities and to take practical action to conserve and restore wildlife species and habitats. I look forward to working with them shortly and to moving towards a full national rollout in the coming years.”

Chairperson of The Heritage Council, Dr Martina Moloney, said:

“The Heritage Council is pleased to be partnering with the County and City Management Association (CCMA), to deliver this programme with the support of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Through the appointment of these biodiversity officers, we are prioritising a community-based approach to biodiversity and habitat restoration. The blend of local knowledge and evidence-based science has been very effective in the design and delivery of local heritage plans, and will ensure that local action for biodiversity will focus on the drivers of biodiversity loss, local priority species and habitats, and policies and actions at local level to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.”

Virginia Teehan, Chief Executive of The Heritage Council, said:

“It is appropriate that we are making this announcement on World Wetlands Day, an international day of celebration for wetlands all over the world. Across Ireland, our peatlands play such a pivotal role in helping to mitigate the effects of climate change, and the permanent voice that these new appointees will bring to local authorities is a gamechanger in our efforts to confront these challenges and the other biodiversity challenges ahead.”

John Mulholland, Chair of the CCMA Rural Development, Community, Culture and Heritage (RCCH) Committee said:

“The County and City Management Association is delighted to support this important Biodiversity Officer Programme. The expertise of Biodiversity Officers strengthens significantly our efforts at local authority level to protect and encourage appreciation of biodiversity in our areas. Already biodiversity officers are making a marked difference in their local authority areas. This additional resource commitment will further assist the local government sector to build on our ambition to integrate biodiversity considerations across all of our operations and strengthen our capability to address biodiversity loss and promote climate action in our work and in our communities.”