Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata) Photo: Mike Pennington
Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata) Photo: Mike Pennington

MEP Elections: ‘Birds can’t vote but people can for them’

May 21st, 2019

A prominent nature conservation group has called on voters to tell their local and European election candidates how much they value biodiversity protection at the ballot box on Friday.

BirdWatch Ireland (BWI) is asking voters who care about our birds, bees, and habitats to tell candidates that they want to see “more decisive action taken to restore nature and firmly address climate change”.

Public representatives need to “hear these issues on the doorstep” if they are to take the issues seriously, BWI said.

“The public has an opportunity to ensure that action on biodiversity and climate change is firmly in the future plans of local councillors and representatives of the European Parliament,” the group said.

BWI said that the recent announcement of biodiversity emergency by the Dáil is a “significant step” forward in political recognition that the loss of animals and habitats needs “to be halted and reversed”.

The group, said, however, that we cannot treat the biodiversity emergency “like the boy who cried wolf” and that “real action is needed now” to avert the unprecedented slide toward species extinction.

Biodiversity under pressure

In Ireland, two-thirds of our 202 regularly occurring birds are now listed for conservation concern, including the once common farmland species the Curlew, the population of which has declined by 96 per cent since the 1970s.

In addition, there has been a 40 per cent  decline in waterbird species in Ireland over the past two decades, with over 90 per cent of our habitats such as bogs and grasslands are in ‘bad’ or ‘inadequate’ condition.

According to BWI, data from recent hedgerow surveys carried out in 17 countries show that only one-third of hedgerows are in good condition for birds and other wildlife.

Hedgerow trees, shrubs and plants act as an important food source for many birds, pollinators and mammal species, as well as important nesting site for endangered species such as the Yellowhammer that breeds until late into the summer and early autumn.

As hedgerows cover over six per cent our land mass – 450,000 hectares – they also act as carbon sinks and can help with mitigating climate change.

Greta THUNBERG, Swedish climate activist Photo: European Union / DAINA LE LARDIC
Greta THUNBERG, Swedish climate activist Photo: European Union / DAINA LE LARDIC

Get out and vote

Last month, the prominent school strike activist Greta Thunberg told young adults that it is vital to vote in the upcoming European elections to voice their concerns to politicians over climate change.

Speaking at the European Parliament, Thunberg said that young adults who share her concerns “about the climate crisis and ecological breakdown” need to vote in order speak on behalf of members of the school strike movement “who are going to be affected very much by this crisis”.

In April, young citizens on the frontline of climate activism in Ireland took centre stage at an event in the Parliament offices in Dublin to tell MEP candidates what needs to be done to tackle the crisis of their generation.

Earlier this month, the Environmental Pillar – a coalition of over 30 national environmental NGOs – held three biodiversity climate hustings with MEP candidates.

Pillar coordinator Michael Ewing said: “Citizens are crying out for a vision for the future of Europe that puts climate action, biodiversity protection and environmental justice at the core of the bloc’s policies.”.

About the Author

Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London

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