It all started with a petition started by siblings of the local Alvey family in February 2021.
The petition started in response to a proposed Masterplan for Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains National Park. The press release referenced “environmental impact management” but there was no mention of improving biodiversity or restoring habitats. Anyone who regularly visits the Wicklow Mountains, will agree it is a National Park in name only, instead the landscape is dominated by degraded peatlands and Sitka spruce plantations that are regularly clear-felled for commercial gain.
Simon, Ian, Danny and Enya Alvey have always been passionate about Wicklow and its wildlife and so they decided to take action. A petition was started on change.org and over the next two months support grew and grew with local and national media covering the issue and environmental groups around the country sharing it. By April 2021, the petition had reached 10,000 signatures and a meeting was arranged with the Minister for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, to present the petition to Government.
But this was only the beginning of what was to become a new community-based movement.
The sad reality is that just 13% of Ireland’s land and 2.5% of its seas are designated as ‘protected’. And even these ‘protected’ areas are not really such as the Wicklow Mountains (Ireland’s largest National Park) demonstrates. As does the fact that a mere 2% of Ireland is now covered in native woodland. Historically 80% of Ireland was once covered by forests of all types, now, at just 11%, we have the lowest forest cover of any country in Europe. This has led to a very poor rate of biodiversity in Ireland, and it is getting worse. A 2019 report found that 85% of Ireland's habitats had "unfavourable" conservation status, and nearly half of habitats were in decline.
In January 2021, Ireland joined an international coalition committed to protecting at least 30 percent of the world’s land and oceans by 2030 in an attempt to halt a global biodiversity crisis. But progress on this to date has been slow and lacking ambition.
During the course of the petition campaign, many local nature enthusiasts and experts got in touch with the Alvey siblings and a group began to form. It became clear that if radical action is to be taken on restoring biodiversity in Wicklow the local community must lead the charge. In January 2022, a new organisation was officially launched as ‘ReWild Wicklow.’