Climate change is predicted to further intensify some of the current pressures on our biodiversity. Predicted drier summers and frequent intense rainfall are likely to result in bog bursts and landslides which may indirectly impact other habitats such as lakes. The predicted increases in sea-levels will affect coastal habitats and associated biodiversity. Species and habitat ranges may expand and contract in reaction to pressures from climate change. Such changes may facilitate a range expansion in some invasive alien species. The impacts of climate change and the continuing threat of invasive alien species are areas that need to be constantly monitored and guarded against, where possible.
Citizen science is the involvement of volunteers in scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by members of the public. Citizen science is included in the EPA Strategic Plan 2016-2020 (EPA, 2016). The EPA's objective is to engage the public in the protection and improvement of the environment. The National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC) greatly enhances public awareness through its online biodiversity recording service and via an extensive programme of workshops which targets capacity building within the citizen science sector. The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020 is implemented by the NBDC and encourages citizens to get involved in undertaking actions for pollinators across Ireland. Its website outlines the actions sectors of the community can undertake to improve Ireland's environment for pollinators, including guidance for farmland, councils, communities, businesses, gardens, schools and faith communities. Citizens are also encouraged to get involved in identifying and recording our bumblebee populations under the Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme.
The NBDC also teamed up with the Centre for Environmental Data and Recording for Northern Ireland (CEDaR) and the EPA in an all-Ireland survey of Dragonflies and Damselflies 2019-2024. Volunteers are encouraged to record sightings and assess the state of the freshwater habitat that the dragonflies and damselflies live in. This information will be used to increase our knowledge of their distribution and provide bio-indicators of water quality and climate change.
Other biodiversity related citizen science initiatives include the Irish Peatland Conservation Council's annual 'Hope to it National Frog Survey' where people are asked to submit records of frog spawn, tadpole or frog surveys, including information on their habitats and any potential threats noted. BirdWatch Ireland offers a number of ways for people to get involved in protecting birds and biodiversity including the annual 'Irish Garden Bird Survey', while Bat Conservation Ireland runs various bat monitoring schemes and surveys with the help of hundreds of volunteers each year. Stimulating community involvement requires considerable effort and takes time. Sustaining public engagement can prove challenging for such initiatives.
The Community Foundation Ireland has initiated a Biodiversity Fund that links ecologists with local communities to draw up local Biodiversity Plans and 51 Plans have been funded.
There is a real need to increase efforts at all levels to bring biodiversity into the mainstream using measures such as Biodiversity Action Plans, thorough environmental assessments and the ecosystem approach, where appropriate, in the development of our policies, plans and strategies. This will ensure that evidence-based decisions are made and unforeseen negative consequences for biodiversity are mitigated and avoided, where possible. Ongoing collaborative efforts to increase public awareness of biodiversity must be continued and augmented. Public awareness and appreciation of biodiversity and its intrinsic link to everyday life is vital if measures to protect our environment are to succeed.