The State is to buy more land for national parks and voluntary schemes will be made available to farmers to be paid for actions which improve biodiversity on their farms under Ireland’s new National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP).

Launched by the Minister of State for Nature, Malcolm Noonan, the plan contains 194 actions and aims to meet Ireland’s conservation and restoration objectives.

The plan will see the State increase its investment in national parks, creating new parks and extending current ones where possible.

Land will be bought on the open market and there will be no land bought through compulsory purchase orders.

Last year, the State bought 552ac from Devenish in Meath to establish a new national park, and it is understood to be considering buying the 1,400ac Conor Pass in Kerry.

A range of new schemes are to be created for farmers to restore nature.

The Irish Farmers Journal understands that these schemes will be bespoke and results-based for farmers, as well as being voluntary to join.

They will be based on schemes which are currently working well for nature, such as the Wild Atlantic Nature project and the former Burren programme.

Nature restoration

A national nature restoration plan will be put in place, as is required under the Nature Restoration Law, and rewetting will form part of this plan.

A Department of Housing official said that Ireland will “comfortably” meet the 2040 rewetting targets under the law and that voluntary action by farmers, if needed, would make up any difference.

The Farm Plan Scheme is also to be expanded. Under the plan, the Department of Agriculture is to review the environmental impact assessment regulations and the Department of Heritage will further strengthen its action on wildlife crime.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Minister for Nature, Malcolm Noonan, said that farmers are the solution for biodiversity.

“We need them managing their land in a way that promotes nature, while continuing to produce some of the best food in the world.”