Some €52.6m has been allocated to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) as part of Budget 2023. The allocation represents an increase of 20% on the budget funding the service secured last year.

“Combined with EU funding for LIFE programmes and an expansion of the local authority biodiversity officers programme through the Heritage Council, this gives us an effective total funding for nature and biodiversity of over €90m,” said Minister of State for heritage Malcolm Noonan.

He said the €90m in funding for the NPWS is up 83% since 2020 and is in addition to “significant” staffing resources.

He said it will enable the recruitment of 15 more local authority biodiversity officers, on top of the 10 announced previously this year and the five already in post.

The €90m will also fund an increase in conservation ranger numbers from 64 in 2020 to 120 by the end of 2023.

‘Significant increase’

Minister Noonan said the increase in funding will allow work to continue on the “timely and effective implementation” of the Government’s strategic action plan for the NPWS.

He said this funding will also “enable the continued reform and renewal” of the NPWS, including additional investment in “rangers and conservation staff”.

“With increased visitor numbers to our beautiful national parks and reserves, this additional funding will continue to ensure visitors' safety as well as supporting sustainable tourism. It also ensures the enhanced protection and preservation of the natural environments of all our national parks and nature reserves.

“Expanding the programme of biodiversity investment and the restoration and conservation of protected habitats will also be enabled by today’s budget.

"This includes raised bog compensation and financial incentives schemes, in line with national biodiversity and climate action objectives and just transition policy,” Minister Noonan said.