Irish Ministers welcome approval of the Nature Restoration Law in the EU Parliament

The Irish Minister of State with responsibility for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, have welcomed the vote to approve the Nature Restoration Law in the European Parliament.
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The proposed Regulation, which had completed trilogue negotiations between the European Commission, the Council and the Parliament, was formally approved earlier today in a plenary session of the Parliament in Luxembourg.

Minister Noonan said: “Today’s vote is extremely positive news. Not just for nature and wildlife across Europe, but for all of us as well. The future of human civilisation depends entirely on healthy, functioning ecosystems, but these life support systems are declining dangerously. We are in a biodiversity emergency. The Nature Restoration Law will bring unprecedented action and investment to this challenge, and not a minute too soon.

“We can be proud that Ireland has demonstrated real leadership on nature restoration throughout this process. Eleven of our thirteen MEPs voted in favour of the NRL today, and they should be commended for that. The Government has also supported the Nature Restoration Law at every step, as has the Dáil - members voted 121 to 9 in favour of nature restoration last year.

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“Our focus now turns to the development of Ireland’s Nature Restoration Plan. It is my intention to work with the Minister for Finance to ensure that the government’s €3.15bn Climate and Nature Fund, which was announced as part of budget 2024, will underpin the implementation of nature restoration measures across the country and deliver real benefits for rural economies.”

Minister McConalogue said: “Throughout the debate on these proposals, my ambition has been to ensure that they achieve their key nature restoration objectives but allow farmers to continue to farm their land in a sustainable way.

“The current proposals differ in a number of important respects from those originally presented by the Commission, and are much more balanced and practical.

“Farmers can have confidence now that no changes will be forced on them and that they can continue to produce the high quality food that Ireland is renowned for.”

Ireland’s fourth National Biodiversity Action Plan was launched on January 25th at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin. It commits to putting a national Nature Restoration Plan in place by 2026 to contribute to the ambition of the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 and global restoration targets.

Work has already started on a participatory stakeholder engagement process to support the development of the Nature Restoration Plan over the next 24 months. Led by an independent chair, this programme will comprise a series of interactive workshops aligned with key themes focussing on the impact of the regulation on land, marine and urban environments. Stakeholders, including farmers and farming representatives, will be encouraged to get involved.

One of key tasks of the restoration planning process will be to identify the design, targets and incentive schemes to deliver restoration measures, including consideration of national and EU funding opportunities and a comprehensive assessment of funding needs. Completion of the Plan will be aligned with the opening of the government’s €3.15bn Climate and Nature Fund in 2026. This fund is expected to play an important role in resourcing the measures in the Nature Restoration Plan.

Minister Noonan added: “Large-scale restoration of nature has the potential to provide additional income streams for farmers, foresters, fishers and other landowners. It will create jobs and stimulate downstream industries, such as eco-tourism, bringing real stimulus to rural economies.

“Tens of thousands of farmers across the country are already taking part in schemes, projects and programmes to restore nature. I have seen for myself the amazing work they are doing.

“Meanwhile communities all across the country – both urban and rural – are putting their shoulders to the wheel as well, developing projects and plans to support nature in their local area. Just today, I got approval at cabinet to invest €110m in the restoration of our rivers so that they can run free. Ireland’s Nature Restoration Plan will build on these successes, expand and empower them.

“We need to turn the tide on biodiversity loss and take the first steps towards restoring nature, and we need to do it together. That’s what this government is committed to delivering on.”

The national Nature Restoration Plan will build on and expand efforts that are already underway across the State. Through the LIFE Programmes and Farm Plan Scheme operated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), farmers are already participating in over 1500 projects to restore nature all over the country.

Many more are expected to participate in the new €25m Breeding Waders EIP, which was launched by NPWS and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) last year.

This is in addition to the more than 18,000 farmers who are involved in results-based ACRES Cooperation Projects under DAFM.

Through the National Federation of Group Water Schemes, a further 130 are participating in dedicated initiatives to protect water quality.

It is anticipated that this number will grow substantially to over 15,000 in the coming years as two new projects – the Waters of LIFE Project and the Water EIP, led by DAFM – come on stream.

Restoration efforts are also underway in other areas, including through Bord na Móna’s work to restore and rehabilitate 33,000 hectares of degraded peatland and Coillte’s commitment to enhance and restore biodiversity on 20% (90,000 hectares) of its estate by 2030.

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