The Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss, which was convened earlier this year, officially began an “intensive” period of meetings last weekend.

The meetings took place at the Grand Hotel, Malahide Co. Dublin, and were the first in a series to be held over the autumn and winter.

This Citizens’ Assembly was created to reflect on the national response to the loss of biodiversity.

The assembly has developed an action plan to respond adequately to its broad mandate of biodiversity decline.

Over the next few months, the assembly will operate by sector, covering the themes of protected sites and species; agriculture and agricultural landscapes; marine environments and coastal landscapes; freshwater environments; forestry; bogs; and urban and man-made landscapes.

The first meeting on Saturday (September 24) discussed declining biodiversity; biodiversity obligations and governance; biodiversity conservation; ecological concepts and threats; national policy and resources; Loss of biodiversity.

Dr. Liam Lysaght from the National Center for Biodiversity Data gave the meeting a presentation on tracking data in support of biodiversity loss. Members of the Assembly were also able to see examples of Irish endangered species.

The assembly also heard from Laura Burke of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and on Sunday heard from Andy Bleasdale of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) on nature designations and nature guidelines that Ireland is legally bound to respect.

He also told the assembly that 85% of Irish habitats designated under the EU Nature Directive are not in good condition. He highlighted the need for active engagement with landowners as well as incentives and partnerships to help bridge the gap between planning and implementation.

The assembly is chaired by academic and facilitator Dr. Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, who said over the weekend: “I continue to be incredibly impressed by the passion and ambition of the 99 citizens involved in the assembly. and the seriousness with which they took this initiative. monumental task.

She adds: “”Throughout the weekend, the quality of the questions posed and the discussions held in response to the presentations showed a keen awareness and emerging understanding of the complexity of the subject. ”

The next meetings of the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss will take place on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 October.