New land review report finds Ireland urgently needs an integrated approach to land management to address climate and biodiversity crises

Monday, March 13, 2023 Press Office
Press Release
Land Use Review

Report co-authored by team of academics led by Atlantic Technological University (ATU)

A new report titled “Land Use Review Fluxes, Scenarios and Capacity” has today (Monday, 13 March 2023) been published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report is the culmination of a research project led by Atlantic Technological University (ATU) academics Dr Eamon Haughey, Dr James Moran, and Ruth Bennett Coady, in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin academic Mathew Saunders and University of Galway’s David Styles.

The report assesses the latest information on land use and land-based greenhouse gas fluxes in Ireland. The research team investigated observed and projected climate change impacts on the land system and examined land use change compatible with net-zero goals for Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use (AFOLU) by 2050. It also explored the potential impacts of land use change on biodiversity and water quality with policy interactions also considered.

Key finding from the report:

Land use and land cover in Ireland is dominated by grasslands, with significant areas of forestry and wetland. Many important forms of land cover are not evenly distributed across the country.

The Agriculture, Forestry, and Land Use (AFOLU) sector in Ireland is a substantial greenhouse gas source, which poses a significant challenge for national climate change mitigation targets.

Changes to the climate system in Ireland have been observed and are projected to increase over the coming decades, having significant impacts on the land system and how it functions. 

Achieving net-zero greenhouse emissions for AFLOU by 2050 will be very challenging. Measures considered in this report included afforestation, peatland/organic soil restoration, reduced emission intensity along with changes to livestock numbers.

Land-use change targeted at climate mitigation pose potential threats to biodiversity and water quality. To avoid such trade-offs an integrated approach to land use and management is required.

Policy targets for land use in Ireland are often inconsistent with the levels of change consistent with climate mitigation goals. Important knowledge gaps and enabling factors were also identified.

Dr Eamon Haughey, Assistant lecturer, Dept of Natural Resources and the Environment, ATU Galway city, says: “Climate change is already having an impact on the functioning of the land system in Ireland. Projections for stark changes to our climate by mid-century highlight the need for urgent climate action.”

Dr James Moran, Senior lecturer in Biology and Ecology, Dept of Natural Resources and the Environment, ATU Galway city, adds: “We hope that this report will inform the development of an integrated land management approach that balances social, environmental and economic needs, while addressing the substantial climate, biodiversity and food/water security challenges that we face.” 

Land Use Review: Fluxes, Scenarios and Capacity” was commissioned by the EPA on request by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Both Departments funded the research.

Read the report in full on


Regina Daly, Atlantic TU Communications
Tel: +353 (0)91 742826 Mob: +353 (0)879618355