The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is expanding its Farm Plan Scheme three-fold and interested landowners are invited to apply.
The scheme was launched in 2006 to support landowners to deliver actions that benefit habitats and species in Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Areas (SPA), known collectively as Natura 2000 sites; along with supporting farmland biodiversity more generally; and to provide a platform for trialling new conservation approaches which can be delivered on a wider scale.
100 active plans around the country
Over the past 15 years, around 800 plans have been delivered covering a variety of nature interests, from birds and other species of conservation concern to habitats including eskers, coastal dunes, fens and turloughs.
Minister of State for heritage and electoral reform Malcolm Noonan has announced a call for applications from landowners to join the scheme.
“The scheme supports the management of some of Ireland’s most important areas for nature conservation and has been very useful over the years, solving many site-specific issues and pioneering new ways of supporting nature,” the minister said.
It can work as part of Ireland’s wider efforts through agri-environmental schemes to address the challenges facing biodiversity today.
“I look forward to seeing a new group of farmers and landowners working with us to agree plans for farming and seeing the fruits of these plans over the coming years.”
The deadline for submission of applications is Friday, April 9, 2021. It is anticipated that the NPWS will approve approximately 200 new plans arising from this call. The application form is available online.
The categories of plans the NPWS is prioritising can be described under the following three headings:
- Type A: Conservation Measure plans for sites of strategic importance, such as Natura 2000 sites and ideally where a cluster of landowners can combine to work at a landscape level;
- Type B: Intervention plans for sites where there is a need to intervene and address the management of a particular area of land in agreement with the landowner;
- Type C: Research and Innovation plans, aimed at advancing knowledge and testing new methodologies to inform wider application.
People with lands in designated sites and whose lands support habitats and species of conservation concern are encouraged to apply.