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Water, Climate, Biodiversity






Nitrates Directive

The Nitrates Directive, implemented by means of the Nitrates Action Programme (NAP), is the key measure for preventing and reducing water pollution from nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) arising from agricultural sources. It has played a major role, since first implemented in 2006, in reducing nutrient losses to waters, resulting in Ireland’s water quality being amongst the best in Europe. 

The proposals for the new NAP (2018 – 2021) build on the significant progress made under the previous NAPs by addressing pathways for nutrient losses, soil fertility, and improved implementation of the regulations.


Agricultural Catchments

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine funded Agricultural Catchments Programme has been in operation since 2008 to evaluate the effectiveness of the package of measures contained in Ireland’s NAP. The ACP works in partnership with over 300 farmers in six intensively farmed catchments. The outcomes of this research provide a valuable insight into the processes that determine the impact of agricultural activity on water quality in the catchments.

Agricultural Catchments


The Green Low Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) is a targeted agri-environment scheme under the Rural Development Programme. Prioritisation of farms within vulnerable catchments and ‘high-status’ waterbodies is a key feature; 45% of GLAS actions benefit water quality.



There are two TAMS schemes benefiting the protection of water: the Animal Welfare, Safety and Nutrient Storage Scheme and the Low Emission Slurry Spreading Scheme





Climate Change is one of the major challenges of our generation. In Ireland, temperatures have increased by about 0.8°C since 1900. The number of annual frost days has decreased whilst the number of warm days has increased.

With respect to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), Agriculture remains the single largest contributor to the overall emission figure at 32%. This proportionate level of agricultural emissions is uniquely high in a European context where the average is 10%. This situation reflects the importance of agriculture to the Irish economy and Ireland’s lack of heavy industry.

Emissions and Targets

Ireland has been set a target to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 20% below 2005 levels by 2020 and by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

2020 Targets

 2030 Targets

The EPA compiles Ireland's annual greenhouse gas emission figures and projections.

National Emissions Inventories

National Emissions Projections



Agri-environmental schemes under the Rural Development Programme play a pivotal role in mitigating biodiversity threats and meeting commitments under Ireland’s National Biodiversity Plan and the related goals set out in various EU strategies and legislation. The main agri-environment Scheme GLAS has been specifically designed with this in mind, by prioritising the protection and enhancement of Natura 2000 areas, the conservation of red listed species, and to combat other threats to biodiversity loss in a targeted manner, but other RDP measures also have important contributions.

National Biodiversity Plan

All Ireland Pollinator Plan

National Peatlands Strategy

National Landscape Strategy 2015-2025

Links to other initiatives supported by Department: