Lands owned by the State may be designated as nature reserves. Where following consultation with the Department of agriculture the Minister/Department is satisfied that the land contains habitats for one or more species which are of scientific interest

  • includes an ecosystem which is of scientific interest
  • contains features of geological geomorphological or other natural interest or
  • certain other features of the landscape of importance to wild flora and fauna including birds
  • and would benefit if measures were taken for its protection..

The Minister may by order referred to as an establishment order declare the land to be the nature reserve. The establishment order sets out the reasons and objectives for which the nature reserve is established.

The Department/ Minister is obliged to manage the land concerned as best may be to secure the objectives indicated in the order having regard to the general protection of the natural environment. There are provisions for amendment of an order. It may be revoked.

Numerous nature reserves have been designated pursuant to this power in particular in the period to 1999. Other types of designations are now more common.

Where land includes a habitat or part of the habitat, ecosystem or contains features of geological geomorphological or other natural interest in accordance with the criteria applicable to establish the nature reserve and is  not owned by the State, the  Minister may recognise the area concerned as a nature reserve by recognition order.

The land is to be used and managed in accordance with conditions specified, in order to maintain a nature reserve. The procedures for making amending and revoking the nature reserve are similar to those applicable to a nature reserve on State land.

Where the Minister/Department considers that particular species or species of flora or fauna should be specially protected and any land which is or which adjoins the habitat of the species or has  features which are of major importance for wild flora and fauna including birds such as rivers or canals or other features, banks, stepping stone, ponds or woods  make them essential for migration’s dispersal and genetic exchange of wild species then he may designate the land as a refuge.

Procedures apply to designation. Certain parties must be consulted. They may make observations and object. Landowners affected may make representations and are entitled to compensation by would reason of the reduction in value of the land consequent on the making of the order.

The Minister/Department may enter an agreement with a person in relation to the use and management of land in a manner specified in the agreement which will not impair wildlife or its conservation. The agreement may provide for payment of monies by way of a single payment or annual sums. It may be registered and become enforceable against successors in title of the owner.

Where the Department considers that a particular species of flora should be protected they may be declared to be protected by order. The protection may be relative to a particular area of the state. Procedures apply.

A person may not

  • cut, pick, collect, uproot or otherwise take, injure, damage, or destroy any specimen to which this section applies or the flowers, roots, seeds, spores or other part of such specimen,
  • purchase, sell or exchange, transport, keep for sale or exchange, offer for sale or exchange or be in possession of any such specimen or any specimen of a species listed in Annex IV(B) of Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 and including any amendments that shall be made thereto, whether alive or dead or the flowers, roots, seeds, spores or other part, product or
  • derivative thereof
  • wilfully alter, damage, destroy or interfere with the habitat or environment of any species of flora to which an order under this section for the time being applies.

A person who contravenes the provision is guilty of an  offence

A licence may be granted by the Minister to a person for such scientific educational or the purpose as may be specified to cut collect or take flora of species specified to alter or otherwise interfere with the habitat of such specimen.

In order to control the trade of collection of wild flora the Minister may make regulations requiring a licence to cut collect take or destroy any specimen of species of flora specified in the regulations. The Minister may by regulations prohibit or control the trade collection purchase and sale of that species part product or derivative thereof.

Most wild birds are protected.

Wild birds and their nests and eggs other than specified species shall be protected. The third schedule to the Wildlife Act specifies wild birds that are not protected. Most of the original specified species have been deleted, so that they are now protected by the legislation. Regulations may be made by the Minister modifying the protection or making it applicable for periods or places.

Subject to exceptions any person who

  • hunts a protected wild bird other than under a  permission or license
  • injuries a wild bird otherwise than while hunting it
  • wilfully takes or removes the eggs or nest of a protected wild bird otherwise than under and in accordance with such a licence,
  • wilfully destroys, injures or mutilates the eggs or nest of a protected wild bird,
  • wilfully disturbs a protected wild bird on or near a nest containing eggs or unflown young, is guilty of an offence

It is not an offence for a person

  • while engaged in ornithology wilfully to disturb a protected wild bird, or
  • while so engaged or engaged in agriculture, aquaculture, fishing, forestry or turbary unintentionally to injure or kill a protected wild bird, or
  • to remove for conservation purposes or to destroy unintentionally the eggs or nest of a protected wild bird in the ordinary course of agriculture or forestry
  • to capture an injured or disabled protected wild bird , or the orphaned and dependant young of such a bird, for the purpose of killing it humanely  or
  • to kill humanely a protected wild bird which has been injured in the manner described in , or captured in the manner or injured in the circumstances described and where the bird is so injured or disabled that there is no reasonable chance of its recovering, or
  • to destroy or remove any such nest which is built in or on an occupied building unless the nest contains the eggs or young of a protected wild bird, or
  • while constructing a road or while carrying on any archaeological operation, building operation or work of engineering construction or while constructing or carrying on such other operation or work as may be prescribed, unintentionally to kill or to injure a protected wild bird or to remove for conservation purposes or unintentionally to destroy, injure or mutilate the eggs or nest of a protected wild bird

Anything done pursuant to a license or permission granted under the legislation or permitted under any other statute or statutory instrument is not an offence for this purpose. Legislation provides for proofs and presumptions in the prosecution of offences.

A licence may be granted by the Minister

  • at any time to capture or kill humanely or capture and humanely kill a protected wild bird of a species specified in the licence for such educational, scientific or other purposes as shall be so specified,
  • to hunt, in accordance with the licence, on such day or during such period of days as is specified in the licence, protected wild birds which are both pen-reared and of a species so specified,
  • to so hunt, on such day or during such period of days, protected wild birds of a species so specified for the purpose of either training gun dogs for any field sport or holding gun dog trials,
  • to  examine, inspect or  take the nests or eggs of protected wild birds of a species so specified for such educational, scientific or other purposes as shall be so specified.
  • to take the eggs of a protected wild bird of a species specified in the licence for the purposes of having them hatched out for repopulation, or re-introduction to the wild or, for such purposes, to move such eggs from the nest of a bird so specified to that of another bird of the same species or for such other purposes as the Minister considers appropriate in the circumstances in respect of the species so specified,
  • to take or make photographic, video or other pictures of a protected wild bird of a species specified in the licence on or near a nest containing eggs or unflown young,
  • to have in possession, for a reasonable period of time (i) an injured or disabled wild bird, or (ii) one or more than one dependant young of a wild bird which is orphaned, with the intention of tending and later releasing such bird or young back into the wild when and only when such bird or young, as the case may be, is no longer injured, disabled or dependant,
  • to retain possession of a wild bird, that for reasons of disability or for other reasons deemed reasonable by the Minister, would, if released, be unlikely to survive unaided in the wild.

The Wildlife Act has provision for the protection of wild animals. They are.

  • Land Mammals
  • Badger
  • Bat species
  • Deer species
  • Hare species
  • Hedgehog
  • Otter
  • Pine Marten
  • Red Squirrel
  • Marine Mammals
  • Dolphin species
  • Porpoise species
  • Seal species
  • Whale species
  • Amphibians
  • Natterjack Toad

Regulations may be made by the Minister adding to or modifying the list of protected wild animals. The protections may be in respect of areas specified for periods  specified.

The Minister may by regulations in relation to wild birds apply the provisions generally by reference to one or more species. The Minister may by regulation in relation to animals apply the provisions generally or one or more species of wild animals which are not protected wild animals. Conditions may be attached to any permission. Breach of the provision is an offence.


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