- The Ramsar Convention in Ireland
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage manages Ireland’s nature conservation responsibilities under national and European law. Whilst this work continues to focus on obligations under the Habitats and Birds Directives, Ireland is a signatory to other International Conventions, including the ‘Ramsar Convention’, which predates the EU Directives. Ireland is one of 168 Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands which first convened in Ramsar, Iran in 1971, and since called the Ramsar Convention. This intergovernmental treaty embodies the commitments of its member countries to maintain the ecological character of their Wetlands of International Importance and to plan for the “wise use”, or sustainable use, of all of the wetlands in their territories. The Convention on Wetlands came into force for Ireland on 15 March 1985. Ireland presently has 45 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance.
The Irish Ramsar Wetlands Committee (IRWC).
The Irish Ramsar Wetlands Committee (http://irishwetlands.ie/) was set up in November 2010 to assist Ireland in meeting its requirements as a signatory to the Ramsar Convention. The Committee is jointly supported and hosted by the NPWS and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Terms of Reference (ToR) were established in 2012, which stated that the Committee draw its membership from:
• Government departments
• Agencies and other bodies
• Local authorities
• Academic institutions
• Landowners and users
The Committee includes between 10 and 15 representatives from the above. Presently, the Committee includes members from the following agencies: Heritage Council, Teagasc, Environmental Protection Agency, Dept. of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Dept. of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Inland Fisheries Ireland, Coastwatch Ireland, Office of Public Works, Birdwatch Ireland, the Community Wetland Forum