Time for focus on biodiversity

Sir, – The prominence given by you to the excellent article "An eco disaster in a national park" (Weekend, May 19th) by Paddy Woodworth highlights a growing awareness of the importance of the health of our landscapes to Ireland as a whole, its people, their wellbeing and our economy.

Woodworth rightly highlights some of the weaknesses in our current systems to manage these areas, ranging from a reliance on informed opinion rather than science, to difficulties in communication and in maintaining important partnerships.

He also points to a need for public opinion to force Government to take landscape health and biodiversity seriously.

Whilst Government does have a National Landscape Strategy, in attempting to have its implementation taken seriously, we are at a distinct disadvantage to other countries in that our legislative framework is so weak.


Unlike the vast majority of developed countries, we have no legislative provision specifically for our national parks – relying instead on an outdated model of State ownership.

Many constructive and community-based alternatives exist and have been shown on a pilot basis to work. Just look at the recent success of the Wicklow Uplands Council and its partnership approach in securing EU innovation partnership funding primarily for vegetation management.

Ireland’s wildlife legislation with some amendments dates from 1976, and it too is sorely in need of review and modernisation if the current focus on biodiversity loss is to be acted on meaningfully.

Politicians and governments in democracies work and are successful when good and up-to-date legislative approaches are in place. That is where I suggest we start and discussions about structures for implementation of policy and management will then at least be held in a framework that demands accountability for how resources are best used.

One aside – if I may – regarding the use of insecticide referred to in the article. With the worldwide debate around the efficacy of glyphosate, and Roundup in particular, surely the precautionary principle should be applied in our public parks at least. Many of our EU neighbours have already gone much further. – Yours, etc,