The Social Democrats political party launched its biodiversity proposals as part of its ‘Greener and Fairer’ platform in the General Election earlier today, Monday, January 20.

The party outlined proposals including: a “voluntary purchase of unprofitable farmland” for woodland planting; and new legislation to eliminate pesticides, among others.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Cllr. Jennifer Whitmore, the Social Democrats general election candidate in Wicklow, said:

“Biodiversity loss is one of the most urgent challenges Ireland faces.

If we don’t meet this challenge head on, there will be catastrophic consequences, in particular for our entire food production system.

“Ireland, despite its image of a green country, is one of the most deforested countries in Europe. Our insect population is declining at an alarming rate with, for example, our bumblebee and butterfly populations declining at more than the global rates,” the councillor said.

“But there are solutions where there is the political will to lead on a radical reimagining of our relationship to the natural world.”

Cllr. Whitmore outlined that the Irish environment and wildlife are robust, and could recover “as long as they are given the time and support to recover”.

“Working with farmers, who are guardians of much of our land, we can be a country where nature thrives again.

“We need joined-up thinking and action from national and local Governments, working with our farmers and local communities, to implement a series of ambitious measures that will reshape how we work with our environment and restore our biodiversity.

Our proposals include a voluntary purchase of unprofitable farmland for converting to native woodland; the doubling of our protected nature reserves; new legislation to eliminate pesticides; new measures to improve urban biodiversity; and the promotion and expansion of wildlife corridors across the country.

“The biodiversity crisis is now. The time for action is now.

“The consequences for ourselves and for future generations are too severe not to act,” the councillor concluded.