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Stormont failed to meet 80% of conservation targets, says report

11% of NI species face extinction if no action is taken

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Nature under attack: Lower Lough Erne and the view over Cleenishgarve Island, towards Lough Navar Forest

Nature under attack: Lower Lough Erne and the view over Cleenishgarve Island, towards Lough Navar Forest

Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

Nature under attack: Lower Lough Erne and the view over Cleenishgarve Island, towards Lough Navar Forest

The Stormont Government has failed to meet more than 80% of commitments made in a five year conservation plan, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

The Biodiversity Strategy launched by Stormont in 2015 has failed to deliver on targets such as water quality and protection of habitats and efforts to improve were "too little too late", the RSPB NI concluded following a review.

If action is not taken, 11% of species in Northern Ireland face extinction, the advocacy group warns.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs did not respond to any requests for comment on the report.

According to the RSPB review, the Stormont Government has failed to meet 35 of 42 targets set out in the 2015 planning strategy.

The conservation charity called for an "urgent review" of strategy and the "development of new commitments underpinned by law".

RSPB NI said that "some piecemeal improvements have been made, but it is too little too late with no systematic, concerted effort to implement the outcomes of the strategy".

According to the RSPB, water quality is "going backwards", witha "deterioration in the water quality of Northern Ireland's lakes and rivers since previous surveys in 2015 and 2018".

"There has been a failure to complete crucial protected area designations for habitats and species that are internationally important, including hen harriers, curlews and redshanks", the organisation said in its report.

It added: "Vital reviews have not yet taken place. For example, a review of 'Strategic Planning Policy Statement' to ensure that measures to promote nature in planning decisions remain appropriate has not even been started".

RSPB NI director Joanne Sherwood said: "It is imperative that the Northern Ireland Executive's strategy matches both the nature emergency we face and growing positive public attitudes towards nature and wildlife in Northern Ireland.

"The NI Executive's failures to deliver our Biodiversity Strategy and the lack of achievement of wider international targets is a wake up call that things need to change today.

"Nature is our life support system and as we begin to rebuild our economy in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the NI Assembly needs to play a leading role in delivering a green recovery and making commitments in law to secure the future of our environment."

The RSPB noted that of the 20 'Aichi Targets' the UK Government pledged to meet under the International Convention on Biodiversity in 2010, its own assessment shows that it has achieved just five.

The RSPB is launching a 'Revive Our World' campaign to lobby for "legally binding targets" to "restore nature by 2030".

Ms Sherwood said: "In Northern Ireland, without laws to enforce protection and restoration, 11% of species are threatened with extinction.

"If people don't want to endure devastating losses in nature in Northern Ireland - and the impact this will have on our health and economy - targets must be enshrined in law.

"This will be vital as we work towards a green recovery in Northern Ireland".

Belfast Telegraph