Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, has announced that the Local Biodiversity Action Fund will receive funding of €1.5 million in 2022.
The fund for local authorities supports locally-led projects in line with the National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP). A further €600,000 will be allocated towards the Biodiversity Officer Programme.
Minister Noonan said:
“I am delighted to be able to increase this vital biodiversity funding scheme, which has proved immensely popular with local authorities.
“Reversing biodiversity loss is among the greatest challenges of our time. Locally-led initiatives can be extremely impactful – supporting them is an important part of the response.”
Through the funds, local authorities are able to start projects addressing nature loss in their area.
The scheme is operated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and in 2021, all 31 local authorities sought funding.
Successful projects of 2021 included Kilkenny County Council Barn Owl Project which showed that barn owl populations are faring well after decades of declines; and the Co. Clare ‘The Hare’s Corner’ project supporting landowners to dedicate a small space for nature through creation of a mini-woodland, a mini-orchard or a pond.
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien also welcomed the announcement, stating:
“My department is committed to supporting local authorities in the central role they play in the implementation of actions contained in the action plan.
“Local authorities are uniquely positioned, working within their own biodiversity plans and with communities, to help halt [such] loss.”
New funding stream for biodiversity officers
Minister Noonan furthermore announced that €600,000 will be made available in 2022 to support the roll out of a Biodiversity Officer Programme ensuring all local authorities have a sufficient number of biodiversity officers.
Among others tasks, such officers are in charge of supporting the implementation of the NBAP and delivering its national targets, while also working on projects with the community in the local area.
A draft of Ireland’s fourth NBAP replacing the current 2017-2021 action plan is underway and it will go for public consultation and launch in 2022.