Farmers are being asked to apply to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) farm plan scheme for 2020. The scheme has a fund of €1m for 2020.

Launched in 2006, to date 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.

While in some cases the scheme will provide an “important test-bed” for particular agri-environmental measures, the NPWS said in other cases it may be the most suitable and responsive mechanism for incentivising and delivering conservation measures.

New farm plans

It is intended in 2020 to establish a number of new farm plans across a range of ecological targets and plan types.

Examples may include:

  • Species-rich grassland plans.
  • Bird plans.
  • Arable farm-biodiversity plans.
  • Multi-functional high nature value farmland plans.
  • How to apply

    Farmers looking to apply are advised to inform themselves about the scheme and applications should only be made using the official application form and emailed to by 5pm on Friday 27 March 2020.

    New farm planners for 2020

    To design new measures on a site-by-site basis, skilled and experienced farm planners will be required.

    The agri-ecology unit is seeking to form a panel of experienced planners from ecological and agricultural backgrounds, and applications are now being accepted for these roles.

    As plans are selected for creation, panellists for that particular plan type will be contacted by the NPWS with a view to tendering for the plan and ultimately a planner or team of planners will be contracted to design the plan and be the planner for the duration of that plan.

    Being placed on the panel is not a guarantee of a contract to draft farm plans, the NPWS said.

    Applications to be registered on the panel should only be made using the official application form and emailed to by 5pm on Wednesday 4 March 2020. More details are available on the NPWS website.

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