June 22nd 2023
I've always said that to protect, conserve and restore nature in Ireland, we need a properly resourced, staffed and equipped National Parks and Wildlife Service. Today the NPWS has
published its first Strategic Plan, marking another key milestone in our efforts to renew the organisation, following on from the 2022 Action Plan.
The Strategic Plan sets out our National Parks and Wildlife Service’s core mission, values and priorities across six Directorates up to 2025, and clearly establishes the role of the NPWS an executive agency within the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, with primary responsibility for nature conservation, wildlife protection and the presentation and preservation of our National Parks and Nature Reserves.
Along with the progress report that underpins it, which was also published today, this plan clearly demonstrates the NPWS is - as it should be - leading the change we need for nature in Ireland.
The launch of the Plan is an important next step in the renewal of the NPWS and as Minister of State for Heritage, I particularly welcome the clarity and simplicity of the NPWS mission, which is to Protect Nature.
I'm pleased to note also that this is a Strategy informed by the views of the public as well as stakeholders. Many different views have been carefully considered and reflected in this Plan, and it was clear from the public submissions received that our parks and nature reserves are places of learning, reflection and recreation, very much cherished by those who visit them.
The other message we received loud and clear is that the challenges facing nature are well understood by the public, and people want to see decisive action taken to protect nature. I'm happy to say that this Strategic Plan responds to that very clearly articulated desire.
My priority has always been the protection, conservation and restoration of Ireland’s biodiversity and I know that that requires a properly resourced, staffed and equipped National Parks and Wildlife Service. To achieve that objective I have increased NPWS funding significantly in recent years, bringing it from €23m when I became Minister to approximately €80 million today. I’ve also increased boots on the ground, expanding the organisation’s staffing cohort by 35%, from 349 in December 2020 to over 470.
Today’s publication of the Strategic Plan builds on this investment and demonstrates the impact that the renewal of the National Parks and Wildlife Service has had over the past year. It also clearly articulates the key areas of focus for the NPWS will be, to enable the organisation to play a stronger role in protecting nature and supporting biodiversity.