NPWS Farm Plan Scheme to receive €1 million boost under July stimulus

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Farm Plan Scheme is to receive a €1 million boost under the July Jobs Stimulus package, according to the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan has welcomed the government’s announcement of an €8.5 million investment for heritage under the July Jobs Stimulus package, which was revealed last week.

The July Jobs Stimulus 2020, part of the Programme for Government agreed last month, aims to offset some of the effects of Covid-19 by “revitalising the economy, providing protection for small businesses and getting people back to work”.

Of particular interest to farmers, investment which will be supported under the package includes:
  • €1 million to reboot and enhance the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme to encourage results-based biodiversity and species management on farms and to resource a dedicated Farm Planning Unit in NPWS. This investment will create over 18,000 hours’ employment in addition to on-farm employment which may be contracted out;
  • €850,000 for peatland conservation and restoration, “protecting and restoring one of Europe’s oldest near-natural ecosystems and benefiting biodiversity, climate and water”, according to the department. This investment will support approximately 25 jobs;
  • €1 million to expand existing built heritage funding schemes in response to significant demand from communities, to progress actions under the Climate Change Action Plan. Approximately 5,600 days’ employment will be created for skilled built heritage contractors, according to the department.

In addition, the department notes that €3.2 million has been earmarked for an accelerated programme of upgrades and enhancement of recreational and visitor facilities at national parks, heritage sites and nature reserves “to balance the upsurge in visitor numbers and the increased demand for outdoor recreational and wellness activities”.

This includes funding to enable a “Covid-proofing” of facilities at state-owned sites, such as: carrying out urgent trail, boating and road maintenance and resurfacing works; habitat and invasive species management; equipment, public safety and security upgrades; and to make improvements to public reception and visitor centres.