Northern Ireland

‘It’s time for targets in law to protect nature’ says RSPB at Stormont

The charity hosted an event aimed at throwing a spotlight on the need for targets to be set in law

Ruth Chambers from Green Alliance, John Martin and Judith Annett of RSPB. PICTURE: PRESS EYE

Calls for an urgent “need for targets in law to protect and restore nature” in Northern Ireland have been heard at Stormont.

Leading conservation charity, RSPB, has appealed for a commitment from MLAs to improve the north’s environment for future generations.

The charity hosted an event at Parliament Buildings aimed at throwing a spotlight on the need for targets to be set in law.

Ruth Chambers from environmental think tank Green Alliance, who was involved in the environmental community’s response to Brexit, was among the speakers.

She spoke about the community’s work on the implementation of the Environment Act 2021 in a bid to achieve its goals in relation to the natural environment.

“Environmental targets can be transformative if they are designed well, prompting regulatory change, better policy and the investment and action needed for to tackle nature’s decline,” she said.

“Committing in law to a clear target to restore nature, with binding milestones along the way, would be a genuine sign that the government is committed to improving Northern Ireland’s environment for future generations.”

John Martin from RSPB NI said: “Northern Ireland has been ranked as the twelfth worst region in the world for biodiversity loss, we simply cannot allow this to continue - nature can’t wait.

“A healthy, nature-rich environment is essential to underpinning our economy, our society and our very existence.

“It should be at the centre of all decision making and policies, not an after-thought.”

“Historically, Northern Ireland has been poor at environmental governance and meeting its targets, and currently there are no consequences for not meeting them, except passing this to future generations to deal with, but this has to urgently change.

“That’s why we hosted today’s event, to show assembly members with new mandates, the importance of the targets in law and how they can help protect and restore nature.”

John Martin, Rut Chambers , Mark H Durkan, Andrew Muir and John Blair
John Martin, Ruth Chambers , Mark H Durkan, Andrew Muir and John Blair. PICTURE: PRESS EYE

The event was sponsored by Alliance MLA John Blair, who said it is “vital we safeguard our natural environment through targets in law”.

“We simply cannot shy away from our responsibility to preserve it for future generations,” he said.

“The decline of our natural environment has not halted when our political institutions did, and so neither should our response to it.”