Wednesday, 6 November 2019
Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2016: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage
My understanding is that this amendment seeks to amend the definition of “restoration potential” within the Bill. This definition within the Bill has been carefully drafted and links to the methodology utilised for the 2014 raised bog natural heritage areas, NHA, review. I do not propose to accept this amendment to it.
The 2014 raised bog NHA review proposes the de-designation of sites where it has been judged that their conservation potential is expected to be marginal and-or that restoration would be prohibitively expensive for the conservation benefits achieved. The review also proposes the designation as NHAs of 25 currently undesignated raised bogs, which are in public ownership or where there is reduced turf cutting pressure. These sites are to be proposed for designation to make up for the loss of habitat within the NHA sites where turf cutting is to continue.
The 2014 review concluded that Ireland could more effectively achieve conservation of threatened raised bog habitats through focused protection and restoration of a reconfigured network. The review clearly set out that the proposed newly configured network would have considerable advantages over the current natural heritage area network, including a greater area of both active and degraded raised bog still capable of regeneration compared to the current network and increased potential for more rapid restoration of raised bog due to the inclusion of State-owned lands into the new network. This is the point, namely, that the network will be enhanced in terms of area and would be reduced in terms of ownership, that is, individual owners, because more State lands would be designated, which would be positive because of the overall view taken by small farmers or small landowners that the State has loads of hectares of land that are not designated, and that these small farmers or small landowners are being targeted. That is a positive development as the overall network has increased with this review.
The heart of the 2014 review and any future review would be the nature conservation objectives of maintaining bog habitats at, or restoring bog habitats to, a favourable conservation status. Bearing this in mind, any future NHA review would follow a similar approach to the 2014 review, as provided for in the Bill. Therefore, I will not be accepting this amendment.