Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Ceisteanna (176)

Catherine Connolly


176. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of the 29 adaptation options included in his Department’s "Adaptation Planning - Developing Resilience to Climate Change in the Irish Agriculture and Forest Sector" report; the status of the implementation of the six recommendations for the monitoring, review and evaluation of the adapted options included in the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18154/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The non-statutory adaptation planning document entitled Adaptation Planning - Developing Resilience to Climate Change in the Irish Agriculture and Forest Sector was prepared by my Department under the 2012 National Climate Change Adaptation Framework.  This document represents a first step by my Department in developing a climate change adaptation approach for the agriculture and forest sectors. This will be developed further under the new National Adaptation Framework now in place.

The following are some of the high level adaptation option categories outlined in the document.

A key adaptation option identified is the need to ensure that all policies, strategies, plans and measures for the agriculture and forest sector be informed of the need to adapt to the potential impacts of climate change.  In order to ensure effective adaptation planning across the Department an internal stakeholder group was established at the outset of the adaptation planning process.  Personnel from across the key areas of the Department were represented on this group and involved in, and engaged with, the adaptation planning process.  There is ongoing communication with this group on issues related to adaptation planning.  This group will be engaged in reviewing and the development of the statutory plan my Department is required to deliver under the new National Adaptation Framework (NAF).

In terms of interagency co-operation this is something that my Department engages in on an ongoing basis.  In particular my Department has been to the forefront in engaging with Met Eireann and the Office of Emergency Planning, as evidenced during the recent storm events.

My Department is engaged with a number of initiatives involving knowledge transfer and communication, the Knowledge Transfer Programme supported under the Rural Development Programme being one such example.  On the international front officials are also actively involved in a range of fora.

Additionally, strong support is made available for climate change research relevant to the Irish agri-food sector.  Most recently my Department has agreed to co-fund two projects related to climate and water, included in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recently opened research call.

My Department is continuing measures related to the protection of our forests from biotic and abiotic threats, including pests and diseases and fire. The environmental requirements for afforestation and land types for afforestation documents and the related industry focused training will ensure that forest planting occurs on the most suitable sites and helps to ensure the productivity and health of forests into the future. Initiatives to support the felling decision of land owners, management plans and certification in the private estate, which complement existing forest adaptation software and reports have been also developed. These measures will help to ensure that our forests continue to be managed sustainably and can adapt to the changing climate.

There are also a number of ongoing locally led agri-environment and climate schemes, including the  Hen Harrier and Burren Programmes. Animal health and welfare issues continue to be a priority for my Department, we have a range of codes of practices and controls in place to support the sector in ensuring highest standards are maintained. The National Farmed Animal Health Strategy 2017-2022 launched in 2017 sets out a comprehensive set of actions for all stakeholders in the agri-food industry to work in partnership to achieve optimal animal health in Ireland. 

Regarding the status of the six recommendations for the monitoring, review and evaluation of the options included in the report, these recommendations form part of my Department’s current work with respect to developing new plans under the NAF. The NAF was published in January of this year by the Minister Communications, Climate Action and Environment and is the framework by which sectors will develop sectoral adaptation plans - as required under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015. The NAF identifies twelve key sectors under the remit of seven Government Ministers where sectoral adaptation plans are to be prepared.  My Department is the lead Department for three of these key sectors: agriculture, forestry and seafood.

The published Adaptation Planning document and the current work being carried out under the adaptation option headings are forming the basis upon which my Department will develop the new statutory sectoral adaptation plan under the NAF.