An extra €1m has been allocated to the Farm Plan Scheme run by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) for 2020 under the Government’s July stimulus package.
This will bring funding for the scheme to €2m for 2020, with €1m announced for the scheme in Budget 2020.
Minister for Heritage Malcolm Noonan said the extra €1m will “reboot and enhance” the scheme to encourage results-based biodiversity and species management on farms and to resource a dedicated farm planning unit at the NPWS.
“This investment will create over 18,000 hours [of] employment in addition to on-farm employment which may be contracted out,” he said.
In Budget 2020, €1m was announced for the scheme to support measures to protect biodiversity and assist farmers with lands designated as Special Areas of Conservation in their role as custodians of nature.
Earlier this year, the NPWS announced a call for applications to the scheme for 2020. The scheme was launched in 2020 and over 650 farm plans have been approved.
The scheme trials innovative and bespoke measures for particular habitats and species and can inform approaches to delivering on Ireland’s biodiversity commitments.
One such example is the corncrake farm plan scheme, which aims to engage farmers in a five-year plan of early and late cover (ELC) creation, its maintenance and delayed mowing of adjacent meadows.
Up to €880/ha is available to farmers under this scheme.
Minister Noonan also announced that €850,000 is being allocated for peatland conservation and restoration under the stimulus plan.
This is to go towards “protecting and restoring one of Europe’s oldest near natural ecosystems and benefitting biodiversity, climate and water. This investment will support approximately 25 jobs,” he said.
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