Over 2.2m acres of the country are classified as Natura 2000 land, land of high biodiversity value with protected habitats and birds.
This week, the Government announced a suite of measures and schemes which are to be taken into consideration for future agri-environment schemes on these lands. Up to €490/ha is proposed in some of the suggested schemes.
Where is this land?
Most of the country’s designated land is located along the western seaboard, west of the River Shannon.
Donegal, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Clare, Limerick and Kerry have the vast majority of this type of land.
There are pockets of designated land in Cavan, Louth, Wicklow and in the midlands.
These Natura 2000 lands are designated, falling under Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protected Areas (SPA). Some 35,000 farmers are farming in an SAC or SPA.
Farmers need to get permission from the Minister for Heritage in order to carry out certain farming practices on this land, including spreading fertiliser, removing trees or scrub and fencing.