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Budget '24: A budget for Nature

October 11th, 2023

The debate around the Nature Restoration Law this summer made 2023 a pivotal year for nature, and for me it was just imperative that we delivered a budget that clearly signaled our intent to take action now to restore nature.

To restore nature we need to invest like never before in our National Parks and Wildlife Service, in our national parks, our protected habitats and and our wildlife. That's why I’m proud to have announced this week what I think is a real ‘budget for nature’, with a new €3 billion Climate & Nature Fund and an overall package of €166 million for Heritage, including a record high €67.5 million for the NPWS.

Under my watch, NPWS funding has risen by 135% since 2020 - that’s vital funding that allows us to manage, expand and enhance our national parks; get more rangers on the ground tackling key threats to nature like wildlife crime, fires and invasive species; and reintroduce beloved species like the white tailed eagle or the osprey. It allows us to protect and restore our most precious places for nature, and fund the vital programmes that empower and support communities, landowners and farmers in their efforts to enhance habitats and improve biodiversity.

In every sense this is a budget that recognises that communities are at the heart of our efforts to protect and restore nature, and that's why I was particularly pleased to announce that our increased NPWS funding is also paving the way for a national Nature Conservation Volunteer Programme. With years of volunteering for nature conservation groups under my belt, I know first hand how much people want to play an active role in our response to the biodiversity crisis. This new pilot will allow communities and individuals to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in to real, science-led action for nature.

To further support that community-driven action, I’ve also increased the Heritage Council's funding to €16 million for 2024. This will fund vital resources for nature, including the National Biodiversity Centre, and help us get a full complement of Biodiversity Officers in place across every Local Authority in Ireland by the end of 2024.

And because you can't have healthy nature without clean water, I've secured an 11.5% increase in funding for water quality - investing in clean, free-flowing rivers by removing man-made barriers, and creating additional posts for inspectors to work with our farmers to support better management of nitrates on farms.

Our budget for nature is also going to fund a brand new €30 million European Innovation Partnership project protecting threatened breeding waders like the Curlew, Lapwing, Dunlin, Redshank, Snipe and Golden Plover. We've secured €22.5 million for the NPWS to support this project, while our partners, the Department of Agriculture, will invest a further €7.5 million.

All of this is in addition to a brand new, and visionary, Climate and Nature Fund totaling €3.15 billion. Throughout the debate on the Nature Restoration Law, I made a firm commitment that I would seek to establish a significant fund for nature, and I've been able to deliver on that through this new fund. Investing in nature is an investment in our future, in jobs for nature, a green economy, and the viability of our farms and rural communities.

This budget for nature is more than a signal of intent, it’s a call to action, and this unprecedented funding will enable us to support communities, farmers, fishers, Government Departments and state agencies to deliver action for healthy nature, clean water and climate resilience at a pace and scale we’ve never seen before in Ireland. The benefits of that will be felt across every community in Ireland.


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