Wildlife and natural environment in NI at 'crisis point after years of inaction', conservation charity warns
A LEADING conservation charity has warned that wildlife and the natural environment in Northern Ireland is at "crisis point after years of inaction".
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Northern Ireland has criticised the Stormont Executive for its "failure to deliver" targets in its plan to halt biodiversity loss.
The charity said the executive has failed to meet 83 per cent of commitments made in a five-year Biodiversity Strategy, which intended to slow the decline of wildlife.
According to the RSPB review, 35 of 42 targets set out in 2015, including water quality and protection of habitats, have not been met.
Other figures reveal 11 per cent of species in Northern Ireland are now considered at risk of extinction due to a lack of laws to enforce protection and restoration.
These include the small blue butterfly and the spiny dogfish.
The Biodiversity Strategy was due to deliver a plan on how Northern Ireland could meet its local and international commitments to protect nature and ensure the environment can continue to support people and the economy.
The RSPB said "instead, the strategy is coming to an end having spectacularly failed to deliver its objectives of halting and reversing declines in our natural environment".
It is calling for an urgent review of the biodiversity strategy, as well as the development of new commitments underpinned by law to ensure action is taken.
Joanne Sherwood, the charity's director, 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 wakeup 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."
Ms Sherwood added: "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."