A new €34m biodiversity project will use evidence from results-based farm schemes as part of the creation of a bespoke database to underpin biodiversity decision making, the Government has announced.

The new LIFE Strategic Nature Project will bring together data from a range of departments, State bodies and schemes, such as results-based payments schemes and measures delivered through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and data from other LIFE projects.

Led by Minister of State for nature Malcom Noonan and supported by the Department of Agriculture and Coillte Nature, the nine-year project brings information on biodiversity from various sources together.

The initiative aims to enhance decision making and support better tracking of progress towards biodiversity targets.

'Positive initiative'

Minister Noonan said that “it promises to be a hugely positive initiative that will enhance our national capacity to deliver real impact for nature and, crucially, to demonstrate the value of that work”.

Part of the next generation of large-scale EU LIFE Strategic Nature Projects, the project will support nature restoration in three ways:

  • By providing an evidence base to inform nature conservation measures in Ireland.
  • By identifying gaps in conservation and restoration work in Ireland and supporting on-the-ground action and the achievement of key nature objectives under national and European policies.
  • The establishment of a national complementary funding unit which will enhance Ireland’s capacity to secure funding for conservation and restoration.
  • ‘Next level’

    Minister of State for biodiversity Pippa Hackett said the funding of €34m “has the potential to take biodiversity policy in Ireland to the next level”.

    She added that recently introduced results-based programmes such as LIFE projects and the Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) are “labour intensive”, with large amounts of data collected as part of the work.

    “This nine-year project will allow us to make the most of those incredibly rich information stores and use that data more effectively so that we can better understand trends, identify conservation priorities in an even more focused way and develop more targeted strategies and policies for protection and restoration,” she said.

    National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) director general Niall Ó Donnchú said: “This new project will strengthen our partnerships, consolidate our learning and ensure that our restoration work is based on evidence of what works best for nature.”

    Speaking on the project, director of Coillte Nature Dr Ciarán Fallon said it “will allow Coillte Nature to undertake a 500ha blanket bog restoration project in the west of Ireland and develop learnings and techniques which can be applied across future blanket bog restoration programmes”.

    “This Strategic Nature Project will also promote information sharing and create synergies across the peatland restoration community in Ireland and create benefits which extend well beyond the restoration project site,” he added.