Dáil Éireann - Volume 663 - 15 October, 2008

Written Answers. - EU Directives.

Deputy Tony Gregory asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the conservation status of the Irish hare is listed as poor or bad in the context of the EU habitats directive following a ruling of the European Court of Justice in 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35185/08]

  Deputy John Gormley: The Irish Hare is listed in Annex V of the Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC).

[889] Under Article 17 of the Directive member states are obliged to report to the European Commission on the status of listed habitats and species every six years. In December 2007, Ireland submitted the first baseline assessments of conservation status for all 59 habitats and some 100 species that occur in Ireland.

Each species was assessed according to its range across Ireland, the population, the quality of its habitat and its future prospects. The reporting template requires the results of the assessment to be expressed as good, inadequate or bad status.

The range and future prospects of the Hare were considered favourable. As the extent of population fluctuation between years is not yet understood, it was not possible to identify a specific favourable reference value for population, resulting in an “unknown” response to this assessment category.

The habitat was assessed as inadequate because there had been some loss due to urbanisation and agricultural intensification. Although only one assessment category reported an inadequate result the rules of the reporting methodology require that the overall summary position must then be described as inadequate.

I understand that the ruling of the European Court of Justice in 2007 concerned species in Annex IV of the Habitats Directive and therefore does not relate to the Irish Hare.