I am absolutely thrilled that Laois and Offaly ETB are to lead on a pilot Nature Skills Training programme aimed at public sector staff and contractors.
This pilot course is aimed at public sector staff and contractors working in sensitive environments, including building sites, to develop knowledge of nature and biodiversity conservation. The training will include ecology, environmental law, risk mitigation and best practice across a range of habitats including rivers, woodlands, lakes, hedgerows, peatlands and grasslands, as well as buildings and bridges.
It is being lead by Laois and Offaly Education and Training Board (LOETB), to be progressed to a certified qualification with the view to a national rollout. It is a one day course and has been created for contractors and managers working in both state agencies and local authorities.
Initially course participants from the OPW and Laois and Offaly local authorities will be provided with training in what is a collaborative initiative, developed jointly by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the OPW, LOETB and SOLAS, the national authority for Further Education & Training.
The vast majority of people do not purposely destroy habitats, but unfortunately we do see unintended and harmful consequences to nature of day-to-day work in sensitive areas. Knowledge is power and I welcome this pilot as a significant step towards increasing an understanding of ecology and environmental law among staff and contractors for the OPW and Offaly and Laois Local Authorities.
I encourage Local Authority management, employees and contractors to grasp this opportunity to expand their own skill set while playing an important role in preserving our living heritage for future generations. It is no easy task and we need all hands on deck. I echo what Minister Darragh O'Brien said at the launch "The more we know, the better able we are to ensure that we make the right decisions for the environment."