Speech by the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin T.D., at the launch of the Wild Work Co-ordination Project

Published on: 17 June 2022

Cuireann sé an-áthas orm a bheith in bhur dteannta anseo i gCarraig Uí Leighin chun mo aitheantas, mar Thaoiseach, a thabhairt don sár-iarracht atá déanta agus atá á dhéanamh agaibh ar mhaitheas an dúlra thar timpeall orainn agus gach éinne a bhainfidh sult agus suaimhneas as torthaí bhur saothair.
Is léir ó bhur gcur chuige leis an dtógra íontach seo, Wild Work Project, go bhfuil tuiscint cruinn agaibh go bhfuilimid sáite mar dhaoine sa domhan nádúrtha thar timpeall orainn agus go bhfuil ceangail idir ár sláinte agus sonas féin agus folláine an dúlra ina mhairimid.
I am delighted to be here today to see the work being carried out by Wild Work. A Project that aims to, in its own words - help people to help nature to help people - and to bring wildness back into people’s lives.
Over recent years there has been an improving public awareness about the importance of improving environmental performance in Ireland, particularly addressing climate change and biodiversity loss.
The value of nature has become even more apparent to us all throughout the pandemic. People have been interacting with local environments in new ways and have gained a new appreciation for local parks, wildlife and green spaces.
I know that nature has been a source of wonder and solace for me personally throughout this period.
With education at its core and with an aim to support biodiversity, climate action, mental health, well-being, community development and social inclusion, I am confident that your initiative will be of enormous benefit in helping to deliver a co-ordinated approach to conservation.
Transformative change happens locally and individually, not least though engaging communities in innovative projects but also through building knowledge of our local environments and increasing capacity for action.
Your Project will be invaluable in leveraging this improved understanding and capacity in order to improve the level and quality of engagement around biodiversity.
Wild Work Expansion
It is truly inspiring to see such a fantastic biodiversity initiative in action. I believe it will be tapping into a huge and growing public interest in getting involved in the important work of protecting, valuing and enhancing our flora, fauna and habitats.
The expansion of your work will bring even more people back into wild spaces in their counties and communities and further help people reconnect with our natural environment.
And I know that Wild Work is part of a much wider initiative, connecting with the full suite of relevant policies in the European Green Deal, the Common Agricultural Policy, LIFE and the Climate Action Fund.
I commend you and I thank you for your ambition and connection to these pivotal national and global initiatives.
Biodiversity Action
Protecting our biodiversity is essential to securing vibrant and healthy ecosystems on which we all depend. Ensuring we live in harmony with nature and understand our impact and its importance has never been more critical.
However, the challenge we face in combating biodiversity loss is clear. We are seeing notable declines in our overall net biodiversity figures .
The tools to help turn these trends around are accessible, and it is our duty to use them to the best of our capacity for not just the next generation, but also for our current generation.
I am greatly encouraged to hear about the various elements of the new modules being delivered by Wild Work, including training on our historic connections to nature, managing habitats for biodiversity and using nature for our overall wellbeing and mental health.
Indeed, I spoke last Thursday at the 2nd National Biodiversity Conference highlighting the profound importance and benefits of biodiversity and our need to deliver action to address the accelerating biodiversity crisis.
The discussions at the conference will shape our fourth National Biodiversity Action Plan – Ireland’s keystone policy for the recovery and restoration of nature. The upcoming Citizens Assembly on Biodiversity will also contribute to the development of the new Plan.
I hope that colleagues present here will also contribute expertise and solutions to the policy, as part of the various consultation processes planned.
And I would like to state that Government’s commitment to biodiversity action does not end there.
I hope to also bring forward a new Shared Island Community Climate Action Scheme this year to support cross-border and all-island partnerships including to deliver nature-based interventions that enhance biodiversity and climate resilience.
Bringing Experts, Citizen Scientists, Farmers, Private Business, Producers and Consumers together to work hand in hand can bridge historic knowledge gaps and create a critical mass of stakeholders focussed on helping turn the situation around.
When people gain more information on biodiversity and recognise its importance, they realise the opportunity to make positive changes in their own lives and communities to protect our precious resource.
This is where I feel Wild Work outputs can help by building capacity across such diverse groups of individuals.
The Wild Work initiative will also play a vital role in wider rural development. Your work complements the Government’s new rural development policy, Our Rural Future, which represents a key milestone in the approach to rural development policy and the development of rural Ireland over the next five years.
The Government I lead recognises the threat that the biodiversity crisis poses to our country’s environmental, social and economic welfare.
There are positive examples of progress being achieved, though we recognise that more needs to be done.
For example, the establishment of a database for Natural Capital by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will develop an inventory of the important ecosystem services we have and their symbiotic value to the economy, society and the environment.
Similarly, the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, which I know Wild Work extensively engages with, aims to enhance the Irish landscape for the benefit of all of our pollinators, including native bees and other species of conservation importance.
The National Biodiversity Data Centre similarly works to make biodiversity data and information more freely available to better understand and assist the protection of Ireland’s biodiversity.
So, while it can be all too easy to become overwhelmed with the challenge of biodiversity loss before us, positive initiatives like those I have mentioned, your very own Wild Work, and others, do exist and are being enhanced as we develop Ireland’s next Biodiversity Action Plan.
We can make a positive difference, but now is the time for change in our approach to biodiversity loss and restoration.
The Future of the Wild Work Project
In this context, I am excited for the future of the Wild Work initiative. In particular, I was delighted to see a hugely positive response earlier this year from people in South and West Cork, West Limerick and Cavan to take part in the new free 12-week biodiversity training programme which kick started the Wild Work Co-operation project.
To assist the public sector in leading by example, your planned training on the biodiversity management of public lands is also particularly welcome, with opportunities for cross learning between LEADER sub-regional areas of South and West Cork, Limerick and Cavan.
I look forward to the outcomes and results of this process, in recognition of the need for best practice in the management of our public landscapes.
A chairde,
I would like to thank Ryan Howard (SECAD CEO) and Suzanne Kearney (SECAD Assistant CEO) for the invitation to speak today. I also express gratitude to all the local communities participating in your training.
I would also like to thank all of the people who work for the SECAD Partnership CLG, West Limerick Resources CLG and Breffni Integrated CLG who are the project promoters for this magnificent initiative.
I also acknowledge the roles played by the South Cork, West Cork, Limerick and Cavan Local Action Groups for approving the LEADER grant funding for this project.
Wild Work is exactly the kind of locally led initiative that I want to see rolled out right across Ireland. It not alone enhances the social, economic and environmental capital of a community but also improves the quality of life of Irish people.
I urge people, community groups, businesses, farmers and managers of public lands to take part in what is an exceptional opportunity to reconnect with nature through the initiatives and training provided by Wild Work.  Collectively, we will further the necessary stewardship and respect of our natural world.
I look forward to seeing the fruits of the range of training services Wild Work will bring; and I wish the Project every success in the future. 

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