Call for Expert Evidence – Land Use

From the Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of the inter-agency land Forum and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications.

The ‘Ask’

As part of this consultation, you are invited to consider and submit evidence important to informing the 2021 Climate Action Plan National Land Use Review (ref section 17.3.4, page 172).

Background

The Programme for Government commits to an average 7% per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030 (a 51% reduction over the decade), and to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. This will be challenging and will require fundamental changes in so many parts of Irish life. In rising to the challenge, we will be able to improve the health, welfare and security of all our people.

To assist in the delivery of this ambition the Programme for Government: Our Shared Future (2020) committed to a national land use review:

Land use review: The Government will undertake a national land use review, including farmland, forests, and peatlands, so that optimal land use options inform all relevant government decisions. The review will balance environmental, social, and economic considerations and involve a process of evaluation of the ecological characteristics of the land. It will include consideration of emissions to air and water, carbon sequestration, and climate adaptation challenges'.

It is anticipated that such a review would allow knowledge transfer to policymakers, advisory services, and landowners in making informed choices as to how best to use land.

Land use has often been viewed through the lens of the individual land-based sectors that contribute to our economy, like agriculture, housing and forestry. But our land delivers so much more to us as a society including supporting our ecosystems, it connects us to our history, it provides opportunities for recreation, and delivers thrilling and familiar landscapes. In Ireland, land is intimate to our concept of ‘place’. Our land is a precious resource and fundamental to our economy, our environment, and our wellbeing as a nation: the way we own, use and manage our land is fundamental to how we live. As such we need to take a holistic systems approach to our use and management of land to enable us to balance the many demands that are placed on it in particular as we face the complex challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. Humans have achieved great advances through land-use practices, but the evidence confirms that some of the historical decisions have had disproportionate and negative outcomes for wider society and the environment. Even recent decisions in Ireland on development, wetland destruction, land drainage, use of production chemicals, and agricultural intensification have resulted in proven negative impacts on water quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and species populations. And into the future, the growing population with the associated demand for more housing and increased food production will also present significant land-use challenges.

Land is a vital part of our natural capital, an asset that supports nature and wildlife and one that underpins our entire economy and in particular the ever expanding ‘green’ economy (including sustainable food production) that will employ more and more people in years to come. Our land can provide the vital platform to help us realise our many ambitions. Land use choices both benefit and impact us all and we all need to engage in the tough decisions to tackle the tensions and trade-offs between competing demands if we are to achieve a just transition. There is much to gain in transitioning to a low carbon and sustainable society and our land will play a key role in this. It is vital that when we consider our land, we think not just about how it is used, but also about who benefits from its use.

The EPA State of Our Environment Report 2020 concluded that our land cover and landscape resources need to be protected, monitored and managed responsibly. This needs to happen in national policies right down to local management scale, covering cross-sector activities on farms, on forest plantations, on peatlands, and in urban and rural areas. A progressive approach to land cover, land use and land management is required to promote land practices that are sustainable and right for our environment and our people. Implementing such an approach will help coordinate, prioritise, implement and measure Ireland’s response to significant environmental issues such as climate change and the decline in nature across multiple sectors.

What is the scope of the land use review?

The land use evidence review compilation is being led by the EPA, who will work with government departments and public sector colleagues (including but not limited to Central Statistics Office, Geological Survey Ireland, Heritage Council, National Parks and Wildlife Services, Ordnance Survey Ireland, Teagasc) to assess the available evidence in the following areas, and what it is telling us about:

  • The impact of current land use on the environment and society
  • The indicators we can use to measure land use impacts on the environment and society
  • Environmental and societal trends that will impact on land use
  • Ireland’s land use stakeholders
  • Commitments and targets in existing policy that impact on land use decisions
  • Land use practices that have proven beneficial to the environment and society

What is the scope of this call for expert evidence on land use?

We are seeking information from experts that contributes to the evidence gathering phase of the land use review above. It is important to distinguish between this call for evidence and public consultation. This call for evidence is asking for references to or descriptions of specific reports or studies. It is not seeking opinions on what would be included in the policy, rather it is asking for evidence that should be used to inform the eventual policy.

This would include, but not be limited to:

  • Research outputs or peer reviewed material
  • Case studies and/or details of field-based projects
  • Data in raw or aggregated format
  • Stakeholder engagement studies or reports
  • Policy assessments that include a land use lens or an aspect of land use
  • Results of models or projections with a land use aspect

What format should your submission take?

We welcome evidence and information from experts in a wide range of formats. To ensure your contribution can be used we ask to you include a cover sheet with your submission that includes the information in the table below. For convenience, we have created an optional Submission Cover Note template that you can use.

ItemMandatory or optional
The name of the organisation or group you represent 

Mandatory

To verify that submissions are from the organisation specified

Abstract: up to 300 words to explain the submission and why it is relevant to land use policy

Mandatory

To verify which aspect of the review the evidence relates to

Sources: where and how the evidence was collected and verified.
(including metadata for any raw or aggregated data)

Mandatory

To verify the evidence can be included

Publication URL, for any published material

Optional

To assist with the evidence review

Name and contact email for person responsible for submission

Mandatory

To verify the submission.

Please see our Data Protection information

Consent: whether you consent for your name and email to be stored so that we can contact you with any follow up queries

Mandatory

To confirm that we can store your personal information only for the purpose of this land use evidential review

How will this expert evidence be used?

The expert evidence will be reviewed and where applicable it will be included in the evidential review. The format this takes depends on the type of evidence supplied. We will include a reference to all sources of evidence.  

This consultation is open until 24 January 2022

Please email your submission to: L.Evidence@epa.ie, or send by post to:

Land Use Call for Evidence

c/o Fiona O’Rourke, Evidence Programme

Environmental Protection Agency

Johnstown Castle Estate

Wexford

Y35 W821

Published:  05 November 2021

Open for submissions from:  05 November 2021

Submissions closed: 24  January 2022