The Taoiseach has called for a “new era” in protecting biodiversity on the island of Ireland. In a speech opening the second day of a national biodiversity conference in Dublin Castle, Micheál Martin told delegates he believes there is a “deepening acceptance” of the importance of protecting the natural world. “The time has come for a new era of stewardship for our natural world,” he said. “The challenges ahead of us are substantial. The approaches that brought us to this point will not suffice.” — Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) June 9, 2022 The conference was dismissed as a “talking shop” on Wednesday by Extinction Rebellion and the Irish Wildlife Trust, who staged a protest outside Dublin Castle. On Thursday, Mr Martin stressed his Government understands the need for a change of direction to protect wildlife. He pledged that success will require a “whole-of-government” approach. He said: “You all know the statistics on biodiversity loss. You know what the science says. Many of you have been involved for many years in communicating it to people like me. “The message is being heard and the consequences of biodiversity loss are more clearly understood.” Campaigners from the Irish Wildlife Trust and Extinction Rebellion protested outside the event on Wednesday (Niall Carson/PA) The Fianna Fáil leader also spoke of the role the country’s “vast peatlands” and “mighty rivers” played in the history of the Republic. “As we look to the future, we do so in the knowledge that those same ecosystems are vital to the resilience of our society, climate and economy over the next hundred years and the centuries to follow that,” Mr Martin said. “We must think long-term and not be afraid of changing how we do things to meet the challenges of our new reality.” He also said he is “impatient” for progress on cross-border co-operation to protect biodiversity on the island of Ireland. Mr Martin said biodiversity does not recognise borders and work has begun to boost north-south and east-west co-operation on the issue.