Press Release

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

Today, RSPB NI hosted an event at Stormont (21 May) to throw a spotlight on the need for targets in law to protect and restore nature in Northern Ireland.

Posted 5 min read
Three smiling people stand on a stone balcony holding RSPB branded signs which read "Nature is in crisis. Together we can save it".

The event, which was sponsored by John Blair MLA and attended by Assembly members and industry professionals, was chaired by the charity, with Ruth Chambers OBE and DAERA Minister, Andrew Muir, as keynote speakers.

Ruth Chambers OBE, a Senior Fellow with environmental think tank Green Alliance, played a key role in the environmental coalition, Greener UK, which was at the heart of the environmental community’s response to Brexit. She spoke about the community’s work on the implementation of the Environment Act 2021, to achieve its goals in relation to the natural environment and was later joined by panel experts including Ian McCurley, Woodland Trust NI Director, and Thomas Ball, KPMG Ireland Director of Nature and Land, use to discuss these potential targets.

Ruth Chambers added, “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. 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, Head of Policy and Advocacy at 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 Blair, South Antrim MLA, who sponsored the event commented, “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. The decline of our natural environment has not halted when our political institutions did, and so neither should our response to it.”

RSPB NI works to protect precious species and habitats across Northern Ireland and campaigns for targets in law to save nature. The charity has been operating in Northern Ireland for over 50 years to inspire a world richer in nature. The charity has more than 11,000 members, around 60 employees, 500 volunteers and reserves throughout Northern Ireland.

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