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DAFM Roadmap will not lead to Climate & Biodiversity Targets

IFNC-issued press release in response to the Government's AgClimatise 'Roadmap towards Climate Neutrality' (10-12-20)

The Irish Forum on Natural Capital finds the Department of Agriculture’s new AgClimatise plan fails to account for the full range of natural values in our landscapes, and does not meet the urgent need for an overarching climate and biodiversity strategy.

The Irish Forum on Natural Capital (IFNC) advocates the use of the natural capital approach, including accounting methods, to inform environmental debates. This approach involves measuring and valuing our natural assets, revealing all the ways in which the environment delivers essential benefits and services to society and the economy. These natural capital assessments can be used to support more sustainable decision-making.

We are therefore disappointed that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has missed the opportunity to inform AgClimatise, its new ‘Roadmap towards Climate Neutrality’, with a natural capital approach, as we recommended in our response last January to the draft roadmap then published by DAFM.

We believe that it will be impossible for the Department to achieve its goal of building “sustainable, resilient food production and land use management systems” without considering the full suite of natural capital values in Irish landscapes.

Without the holistic approach to climate mitigation and adaptation that natural capital accounting facilitates, we risk serious unintended consequences in other parts of the environment such as water and biodiversity.

For example, if we don’t put “the right trees in the right places”, actions such as “increasing afforestation” and “maximising the contribution of existing forests to climate change mitigation and adaptation” may actually hinder our climate goals. A focus on carbon sequestration without considering the condition of all the elements in our ecosystems is dangerous. The natural capital approach shows how our actions impact across ecosystems.

Last week’s EPA State of the Environment report called urgently for “a single overarching policy position - a vision to protect Ireland’s environment into the future”. A failure to account properly for the costs and benefits of our actions results in incoherent and contradictory policy decisions at every level, with potentially disastrous results.

This policy coherence is a prerequisite for delivering meaningful action in the agricultural sector. And yet there is no mention of nature, ecology or ecosystems in this Roadmap. We call on DAFM to urgently consider incorporating the natural capital approach into their plan to enable and empower our farmers and land managers as key agents in rolling out the overarching policy that the EPA recommends.

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