Farmers who carry out projects such as rewetting should be given “sufficient income”, Minister of State for heritage Malcolm Noonan has said.
When asked by the Irish Farmers Journal what he would say to some farmers who have concerns around their productivity after rewetting, he said that sufficient income is “critical”.
“Everybody has traumatic experiences of the designations. That approach is changing. What we want to do, as demonstrated by Wild Atlantic Nature and other LIFE programmes, is that we see this collaborative approach as the way forward.
“We have a big task ahead of us to restore nature. The EU biodiversity targets are all there, they’re binding targets.
"From that point of view, we want to work with the farming community, particularly in this part of the country where farming incomes are dropping and there’s an opportunity to offset those incomes from results-based schemes and supporting them to manage the land and rewet habitats,” he said.
He said the CAP has a huge role to play.
“We’ve seen the work done by Brendan Dunford with Burrenbeo; a simple results-based scheme-type mechanism.
“To have projects in there like Wild Atlantic Nature that are giving additional income to farmers but for active land management, I think that’s critically important,” he said.
He said the science and biodiversity section of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the water section in his department have been working with the Department of Agriculture to try to design-in schemes into the strategic plan that will work for farmers in this part of the country.
Commenting on the ongoing review of the NPWS, he said the process is taking “a bit longer” than expected.
“We’ve consulted widely with farm organisations, in NPWS itself, stakeholders. We’ll bring entire plan to Government and I’m confident we’ll put in place a structure and will hit the ground running, once it’s approved by Government, in terms of its implementation.
“We want to see it fit for purpose, to be a respected voice for nature in Ireland and internationally, but also to be resourced to carry out the huge task of work ahead and to continue to work in collaboration with all agencies,” he said.