Bill from Senator Alice-Mary Higgins would give Coillte and Bord na Móna a “Mandate for Nature”

Alice Mary Higgins Climate Action And Biodiversity Bill
Alice Mary Higgins Climate Action And Biodiversity Bill

The Bill from Independent Senator Alice-Mary Higgins and her colleagues in the Seanad Civil Engagement Group would amend the Turf Development Act 1946 and the Forestry Act 1988 to change the outdated mandates of Bord na Móna and Coillte and insert new language on climate action and biodiversity.

In the case of Bord na Móna, this would strengthen the protection and restoration of bogs and in the case of Coillte the development and protection of native woodlands.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Senator Higgins said: “My Bill seeks to amend the outdated mandates of Coillte and Bord na Móna, which are currently framed in narrow commercial terms, when we know they can, and should, also be playing a powerful transformative role in the achievement of our national biodiversity and climate action goals.”

“Both organisations are responsible for a huge amount of the lands, bogs, waters and soils of our country, with Coillte alone controlling 7% of land in the Irish state. Managing that land in a way that genuinely prioritises and delivers for biodiversity and climate action would be a major step forward. It would also reflect recommendations from the Citizen’s Assembly on Biodiversity and specific commitments in the Programme for Government to update the remit and objectives of Coillte and Bord na Móna”.

While public sector bodies are subject to the Public Sector Climate Action Mandate, which requires a 51% reduction in emissions by 2030 under Irish law, semi-state companies are currently not. That is why getting the legal mandates right is so important

Senator Higgins concluded.: “By going to the heart of the legal mandates underpinning Coillte and Bord na Móna, this Bill empowers and requires those bodies to act in the best public interest, the best interests of our environment and the best interests of our collective future. Our Bill also ensures just transition for workers and communities is properly reflected within Bord na Móna’s objectives.”

The Bill, which is being supported by a wide range of NGOs including the Irish Environmental Network, will be debated at second stage in the Seanad at 6:30 PM on Tuesday 16th May.

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