IWDG concerned by lack of wildlife representation on new Heritage Council

16th Jul 2016

IWDG are deeply concerned with the new Heritage Council recently appointed by Minister Humphries.   The new members of the board (listed below) does not include one member with expertise in wildlife.  This is completely unacceptable for a state body whose remit under the Heritage Act, 1995 [pdf 96kb] is to provide policy advice on all aspects of heritage both natural and built. Heritage under the the Heritage Act includes monuments, archaeological objects, heritage objects such as art and industrial works, documents and genealogical records, architectural heritage, flora, fauna, wildlife habitats, landscapes, seascapes, wrecks, geology, heritage gardens, parks and inland waterways.

No recently appointed member has a professional expertise in natural heritage !! This follows the council failing to appoint a Wildlife Officer since its last one (Cliona O'Brien) left to join the National Parks and Wildlife Service, despite the Council having a legal obligation to represent natural heritage.  Over the last 5-10 years the Heritage Council budget has been reduced by the state to a level where the IWDG considers they are unable to deliver on their natural heritage functions.  The Wildlife Grants, which were one of the only sources of funds for small scale wildlife projects for NGO and local community groups available, have been absorbed into the Biodiversity Grant Scheme which are aimed at enhancing biodiversity rather than collecting information

IWDG Chief Science Officer Dr Simon Berrow, who was a full member of the Heritage Council from 2000-2005 says "it is not only very depressing to see the erosion of the Heritage Council as a relevant body in the protection and promotion of out heritage, but to have no Wildlife Officer nor representation on the board, must serious raise questions whether they are fulfilling their statutory remit". While the IWDG congratulate the new board and wish them well in their work, their first act should be to appoint a full time Wildlife Officer AND co-opt independent natural heritage expertise to the board.

The members of the board of the Heritage Council:

•Marie Bourke
•Kieran Coughlan
•Miriam Fitzpatrick
•Mary Gallagher
•Jane Maxwell
•Fionnuala May
•Sinead McCartan
•Ivor Mc Elveen
•Michael Parsons
•Muiris Ó Súilleabháin
•Brian Walsh

http://www.heritagecouncil.ie/newsmedia/view-article-from-home/article/minister-humphreys-appoints-new-board-to-the-heritage-council/?cHash=9fe7e80d3bfcd1c2f4530ab60aab17af