Today marks the start of National Biodiversity Week so I'm taking the opportunity to update you on what I'm doing for nature in my role as Minister for Heritage.
It’s a privilege to be working with the incredible team in the National Parks and Wildlife Service and I’m genuinely excited for what we can achieve for nature by working with our colleagues across Government. There has never been more passion, enthusiasm and drive to change things for the better – and not before time.
Addressing the nature challenge is my number one priority and strengthening the NPWS, delivering a robust all-of-Government National Biodiversity Action Plan and laying the foundations for the achievement of the highly ambitious 2030 EU biodiversity targets on ecosystem restoration and protected areas are among the top strategic actions I’m working on.
You’ll hear a lot more about these over the coming months and I look forward to engaging with you on them.
In the meantime, I wanted to give you a quick rundown of some of my top achievements to date and highlight some of the great work going on in the natural heritage and water divisions of the Department for Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
There are more announcements to come during Biodiversity Week as well, so keep an eye out for those and help us spread some good news for nature!
What have we done so far? Here’s a selection of my key achievements
Increased NPWS funding by 70% in 2021
Recruiting an additional 50 NPWS Conservation Rangers in 2021
Brought the Prioritised Action Framework, which sets out what needs to be done to protect and restore our Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas, to Cabinet
Delivered €1.35m for Local Authority biodiversity projects, including €500,000 dedicated to invasive alien species projects
Launched the new All-Ireland Pollinator Plan and funded a full-time Project Officer role
Contributed €2.6m and 15 sites for a major raised bog rehabilitation project ‘Peatlands & People’
Increased the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme from 100 to 300 to support landowners to protect important habitats and species
Created 30 seasonal jobs for Curlew protection with Minister Hackett
Doubled funding for 25 community peatlands projects across the country
Announced €6m for the Ulster Canal Greenway
Allocated €500,000 for rhododendron clearance in Connemara National Park
What’s going on in my Department right now? You can get involved!
Public consultation on Marine Protected Areas: Have your say here
Public consultation on the National Peatlands Strategy Mid-Term Review: Have your say here
Citizen scientists in nine key areas wanted until end of June to help save the Curlew: Get involved here
Citizen scientists in coastal areas wanted until end of July to inform National Chough Survey: Get involved here
NPWS Review – this was a key Programme for Government commitment. The window for the online survey and written submissions is now closed, but hopefully you had your say!