Members of the Green Party in Cork have welcomed news that Cork City Council has been selected among 10 local authorities to receive government-funded biodiversity officers this year.
The programme is being delivered by the Heritage Council and the County and City Management Association (CCMA) with the support of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
Commenting on the development, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, welcomed the recruitment of new biodiversity officers around the country.
“These 10 new posts, and the funding for a further 15 that I announced as part of Budget 2023, will have an enormous impact on the ground in helping to deliver action for nature at the local level,” Mr Noonan said.
“The declaration by the Dáil of a biodiversity emergency in 2019 sent a clear signal of how seriously we as a country need to take the biodiversity challenges ahead, and our objectives in the Programme for Government demonstrate this urgency.
“Today’s announcement is another step in the right direction and it reflects my commitment to ensuring that these objectives are fulfilled and that all local authorities have a sufficient number of heritage and biodiversity officers among their staff complement,” he said.
In a statement to the media, the Green Party in Cork said it had confirmed that the new government-funded position in the city will exist in addition to a position already announced which will be funded by the city.
This will mean that Cork City Council will have two biodiversity officers in 2023.
The new roles will mean biodiversity officers will now be employed in both the operations and the strategic planning directorates of Cork City Council, and a further ecologist will be hired in the community, culture and placemaking directorate.
At Monday’s meeting of Cork City Council, it was confirmed that 14 out of 23 new positions in the city’s active travel office have already been filled.
These positions include senior engineers, project managers and surveyors.
The remaining posts are in the process of recruitment and will be filled over the next three to four months.
Other roles being hired for include a climate action officer, active travel officer and an executive landscape architect.
Green Party councillor for Cork City North East, Oliver Moran, welcomed the news.
“The two new biodiversity officers will play two very different but complimentary roles,” Cllr Moran said.
“One will be wellies-on-the-ground, working with staff and communities on biodiversity operations, and the other will be policy-based and work on the city’s biodiversity strategy and long-term planning.” Mr Moran said the positions reflected the need for expertise and change on climate and biodiversity in the city.
“At Tuesday’s meeting of the Climate Action Committee, councillors were told that work on the local climate action plan is expected to begin before the end of the year,” he said.
“That will start a 12-month process to agree how the city will meet its climate obligations across all sectors.
“Something that before seemed distant and abstract is now going to become much more immediate and real in people’s lives. We will need to agree the measures we’re going to take to severely reduce our impact on the climate and broader environment,” Cllr Moran said.
“That’s going to take expertise of all kinds and that's now being reflected in these new hires.”