The Irish Environmental Pillar, Stop Climate Chaos Coalition and the Sustainable Water Network have produced recommendations for Government entitled “Towards a New Agricultural and Food policy for Ireland”. This comprehensive proposal addresses a number of components, proposing a new agricultural “model that works within the ecological parameters essential to a healthy society, economy and planet”.
The report notes that “across Europe, intensification has resulted in a decline of structurally diverse landscape elements, such as ecological corridors and hedgerow networks, where natural habitats have become increasingly fragmented”. It also recognises that “targets within the EU Biodiversity Strategy aim for at least 30% of EU land area to be protected and connected through ecological corridors, and at least 10% of agricultural area to have high-diversity landscape features, such as hedges and ponds”.
The report includes an aim to “support sustainable livelihoods and incentivise farm diversification”, and suggests that “solutions include building sustainable and viable rural communities and rewarding farmers for the ecosystem services they provide”.
In order to protect and restore biodiversity on farmland, among the recommendations, the report calls on Government to:
“Introduce bespoke legislation to protect hedgerows, including a requirement for consent from the relevant agencies for all proposed hedgerow removal.”