- 2022 Local Biodiversity Action Fund supports locally-led projects that align with actions under National Biodiversity Action Plan
- It will also support the national rollout of the Biodiversity Officer Programme
Malcolm Noonan TD, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, today (6th December) announced that the Local Biodiversity Action Fund will receive funding of €1.5 million in 2022 – a 300% increase in funding for this scheme since 2019.
Minister Noonan also announced that €600,000 will be made available next year to support the roll out of a Biodiversity Officer Programme in local authorities around the country.
First launched in 2018, the re-named Local Biodiversity Action Fund offers funding to assist local authorities in the implementation of actions in the National Biodiversity Action Plan.
Local authorities play a vital role in addressing the biodiversity emergency. This funding stream enables them to develop projects that address biodiversity loss in their localities by helping to create new habitats, restoring existing ones and by tackling invasive alien species.
The scheme, operated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, has proved hugely popular, with all 31 local authorities seeking funding in 2021. A wide variety of projects were financed, ranging from the surveying of breeding birds and the creation of pollinator-friendly initiatives, to projects raising awareness of the importance of biodiversity to our wellbeing.
New funding stream for Biodiversity Officers
In recognition of the vital work that local authorities and their staff undertake in tackling the biodiversity crisis, Minister Noonan today also announced that a new funding stream will be made available to progress the Programme for Government commitment to ensure that all local authorities have a dedicated Biodiversity Officer.
Biodiversity Officers are the public face of biodiversity at the local level. They are tasked with supporting the implementation of the NBAP and the delivery of national biodiversity targets, commissioning biodiversity surveys and working with the community on projects to improve the status of biodiversity in the local authority area.
Commenting on the announcement, Minister Noonan said:
“I’m delighted to be able to increase this vital biodiversity funding scheme, which has proved immensely popular with local authorities. They have increased their participation in biodiversity and invasive species projects year-on-year, and the benefits of this are shared by all of us, not least local communities.
“I’m particularly pleased that the increased funding includes a new stream to extend the Biodiversity Officer programme across the country. In the Programme for Government, we committed to ensuring that all local authorities have a sufficient number of Biodiversity Officers among their staff complement, and I’m looking forward to seeing this grow over the coming years. Reversing biodiversity loss is among the greatest challenges of our times. Locally-led initiatives can be extremely impactful – supporting them is an important part of the response.”
Minister for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke TD, said local authorities have a lead role to play in addressing the biodiversity emergency given their connection to the public.
“Local Authorities and their staff are the closest arm of the State to our citizens so it is great to see them supported to lead the charge against biodiversity loss. Local Authorities experienced great success so far this year rolling out their Biodiversity Projects, so this increased investment will go a long way to boost their efforts.”
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, TD, 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 National Biodiversity Action Plan. Local authorities are uniquely positioned, working within their own biodiversity plans and with communities, to help halt biodiversity loss. Biodiversity officers are a key part of this and are crucial to the implementation of actions for biodiversity at local and regional level.”
Successful projects in 2021 include:
- Cavan County Council Biodiversity Awareness Project, promoting awareness of biodiversity within the county. Projects include: Cavan County Biodiversity Action Plan, Tidy Towns Pollinator Award, vegetation management plans for historic graveyards and West Cavan Bogs Association Community Mapping Project – Trackways and Trails to the Past.
- Kilkenny County Council Barn Owl Project carried out surveys which showed that barn owl populations are faring well in the county, after decades of declines.
- Roscommon County Council Biodiversity Awareness Project 2021 had three strands: 1. Supporting the All Ireland Pollinator Plan, 2. Local Radio Biodiversity Campaigns, 3. Supporting Biodiversity Projects. The funds enabled RCC to sign up to the All-Ireland Pollinator plan and implement a number of actions therein.
- Clare County Council implemented ‘The Hare’s Corner’ project, which sought to support landowners in County Clare who wanted to dedicate a small space for nature through creation of a mini-woodland, a mini-orchard or a pond.
- Dun Laoghaire- Rathdown County Council Hedgerow Survey showed how important hedgerows are to landscape connectivity in the county. The map will feed into their Ecological Network maps for the county which will inform decision makers as part of their County Development Plan. Also, as a result of this project, DLR’s Biodiversity officer will develop guidance on hedgerow protection and management for DLR. DLR have also developed a hedgerow toolkit for schools as part of the project in order to raise awareness about our hedgerows to teachers and school children.
Note to Editors
An amount of €1.5 million has been made available in 2022 for the NBAP Local Authority Biodiversity Grant Scheme. The funding was made available, in line with a grant application and award process, to biodiversity officers in the counties that have them, and heritage officers. Funding awarded is:
- Subject to provision of an agreed level of co-funding from the local authority’s own resources;
- spent on a project directly related to one or more actions of the National Biodiversity Action Plan or targeting Invasive Alien Species projects, including species which are included on the on EU IAS list of Union concern;
- The project outputs must be reported to the Department before the end of the year.
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