A Cork TD has welcomed the news that a strategic review of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has gotten underway.
The review will assess the remit, status and funding of the NPWS division of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage "in the context of unprecedented ambition for the protection, conservation and restoration of biodiversity in Ireland".
Dr Jane Stout, Professor in Botany at the School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin has been appointed chairperson of the review and former EPA Director Dr Micheál Ó Cinnéide is the deputy chair.
The purpose of the review is to appraise the current operational model of the NPWS and to identify any issues, including structure, resourcing, staffing and governance, which need to be addressed in order to better equip the NPWS to meet its operational objectives.
Speaking to, Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O'Sullivan welcomed the review as “an opportunity to completely overhaul the National Parks and Wildlife Service”.
“For too long it has been under-resourced and under-staffed, which has meant multiple wildlife crimes have gone unpunished. We need a NPWS that will make a real difference to biodiversity in Ireland,” he said.
“The protection of habitat, the protection of biodiversity haven’t received enough attention in the past but with a properly resourced National Parks and Wildlife Service there’s a huge opportunity here to once and for all put biodiversity and habitat to the fore and ensure that where habitat is destroyed or where wildlife is massacred that it’s punished.
“Hats off to Minister Malcolm Noonan for bringing this forward,” the Cork South West TD continued.
Commenting, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan said:
“Ensuring that the National Parks and Wildlife Service is properly resourced, staffed and equipped to lead Ireland’s response to the biodiversity emergency is one of my key priorities as Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform. In 2020, NPWS’s funding was 70% down on what it had been before the financial crisis in 2008.
“I increased its funding by 80% in Budget 2021, but there is much more to do.
“The scale of this Government’s ambition for nature is unprecedented, and the recommendations of this strategic review will be critical in enabling us to meet that ambition.”
It is anticipated that the review process will be completed this summer, with publication of the report and its key recommendations to follow.
The terms of reference will be published in advance of the stakeholder engagement process, which will commence in the coming weeks.