Today is World Wildlife Day and Malcolm Noonan T.D., Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, has announced that over €1.35 million will be made available to local authorities in the Local Authority Biodiversity Grant Scheme.
The funding will be for projects that tackle Invasive Alien Species and/or carry out actions in the National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2021.
First launched in 2018, funding for the grant scheme has been increased from €700,000 in 2020. The scheme comprises two streams: a €500,000 fund for projects tackling Invasive Alien Species (IAS), including species which are included on the EU IAS list of Union concern, and €850,000 for other maintenance, restoration and awareness-raising projects under actions in the National Biodiversity Action Plan.
The scheme is operated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and offers funding to assist local authority biodiversity officers and heritage officers in local authorities without a biodiversity officer with the implementation of projects that promote actions contained in the Plan.
Minister Noonan said:
“I’m thrilled to launch this important funding scheme on World Wildlife Day to further support the implementation of the National Biodiversity Action Plan. Local Authorities have a hugely important role to play in addressing the biodiversity crisis, and we need their help to create new habitats, restore existing ones, tackle invasive species and raise awareness of nature locally, regionally and nationally.
“More than ever, people are making space for wildness in their lives – in gardens, on farms, and in public spaces – and reaping all sorts of benefits, not least of which is the sense of wellbeing and peace that we get from spending time in nature. My Department’s investment in local projects through local authorities will support public efforts to deliver benefits for biodiversity, and for society too.”
The Minister hopes to build on the success of previous year’s grant projects, including the ‘Gardening for Biodiversity’ booklet produced by Laois County Council and the creation of new ponds in an overall strategy to develop more freshwater habitat in Turvey Nature Park by Fingal County Council.
In 2020, 30 Local Authorities used the Scheme to carry out over 50 projects that promoted actions in the NBAP, including:
Kilkenny County Council commissioned a series of biodiversity adverts for local radio throughout 2020, encouraging the public to protect, record and enjoy Kilkenny’s biodiversity;
Survey work by Kerry County Council to facilitate prevention, early detection and rapid eradication and management of Rhododendron ponticum, an invasive alien species in the Killarney National Park, MacGillycuddy Reeks and Caragh River Catchment SAC, the UNESCO Kerry Biosphere Reserve and the MacGillycuddy Reeks European Innovation Partnership Project area;
Projects to raise awareness of biodiversity in Cavan, Clare, Roscommon and Longford;
Pollinator friendly initiatives to promote Galway as Pollinator Friendly City.