World Wetlands Day 2023: Minister Hackett highlights the importance of Wetlands
To mark World Wetlands Day (2nd February), Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett, took the opportunity to visit the farm of Joe Roche, Ballinacarrig Farm, Balllymoney, Co. Wexford. Joe is a dairy farmer, taking part in the Enhancing Biodiversity in the Ballymoney Stream Catchment (EIP) project funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Globally nearly 90% of the world’s wetlands have been degraded since the 1700s, and we are losing wetlands three times faster than forests. Yet, wetlands are critically important ecosystems that contribute to biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaptation, freshwater availability, local communities and economies and more.
Minister Hackett said: “It is urgent this World Wetlands Day that we take the opportunity to raise national awareness about our wetlands so that we can encourage actions to reverse the loss of our wetlands, and to conserve and restore them.”
Joe constructed a pond to slow the flow of water entering his stream. He also restored a previously drained wetland area, which the stream flows through and converted ryegrass to multispecies sward, as well as managing stock access to a highly valuable wet woodland. The combination of measures all carried out in one year, have significantly slowed the flow of water and boosted biodiversity. As the stream leaves Joe’s farm it is at ‘Good Ecological Status’. Further measures were taken on other partner lands before the stream enters Ballymoney beach. This demonstrates that it is possible to achieve improvements in water quality, contribute to carbon storage and enhance biodiversity at the same time supporting a productive dairy enterprise.
Concluding, the Minister said: “I was delighted to see first-hand the wetlands on Joe’s farm and to hear of the invaluable work that the EIP team are doing to increase people’s understanding of these critically important ecosystems. The Ballymoney EIP is a great example of a local community, both farmers and non-farmers, working together to benefit the environment.”
Notes to Editors
- World Wetlands Day is celebrated each year on 2nd February to raise awareness about wetlands. This day also marks the anniversary of the Convention on Wetlands, which was adopted as an international treaty in 1971. This year the theme is restoration. https://www.ramsar.org/activity/world-wetlands-day
- A wetland is an area of land that is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally, and where the water table is near or at the surface. “Wetlands” may vary considerably in visual appearance, owing in part to the setting in which they occur and the vegetation type(s) present. There are special suites of plants adapted to cope with wet conditions and, as these wet conditions vary spatially, a mosaic of habitats comprising different plant communities may occur within a single wetland.
- Ireland’s wetland habitats range from the very small (like a freshwater spring) to habitats which dominate the Irish landscape such as lakes, rivers and bogs. They are home to a large diversity of plant and animal species and form an important network of ecological sites for many species on migration.
- The biodiversity of wetlands in Ireland has been estimated to be worth €385 million per year to the Irish economy and wetlands also contribute a component of the €330 million nature and eco-tourism value of Irish habitats.
- The European Innovation Partnership for Agriculture Productivity and Sustainability (EIP-AGRI) is an exciting and novel approach to research and innovation. EIPs are challenge-driven and focus on societal benefits and modernisation. EIPs support cooperation between research and innovation partners in order to achieve better and faster results compared to existing approaches. Ireland has 57 EIP projects in operation funded by DAFM under Ireland’s RDP programme 2014-2020 (extended to 2022).
- For events celebrating WWD in Ireland and more see https://irishwetlands.ie/world-wetlands-day-2023-events/ which will include a joint fieldtrip by Teagasc, farmers and the env. NGO Coastwatch to farmland in the front line of sea level rise and storm surges and a workshop in Wexford County Council.