26 January 2023
By Tom Collins
Malcolm Noonan TD, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, has announced a doubling of funding to the Local Biodiversity Action Fund to €3 million for 2023. Local Authorities can now apply to the National Parks and Wildlife Service to avail of this funding to deliver local biodiversity projects. Over €94,000 was allocated to local projects through the local authorities in Cork in 2022.
First launched in 2018, the Local Biodiversity Action Fund offers funding to help Local Authorities achieve actions identified in the National Biodiversity Action Plan, recognising the important role they plan in addressing the biodiversity emergency. This funding stream enables the development of projects that address biodiversity loss in Local Authority areas 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 proven hugely popular, with 109 projects funded in 2022. A wide variety of projects were financed including in the areas of Wetland Restoration, Bird Surveys, Dune restoration, Biodiversity Awareness and Invasive Alien Species.
Commenting on the announcement, Minister Noonan said:
“I’m delighted to be able to double the funding for this vital biodiversity funding scheme, which has proven immensely popular with Local Authorities, who have carried out really impactful projects with the funding. We have seen increasing 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.
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. Local Authorities play an important role in these efforts. Combined with our announcement last year of the appointment of Biodiversity Officers in the Local Authorities, [this] funding increase will allow the Local Authorities to play an ever more active role in our plans to address biodiversity loss. The State has increased its funding to the NPWS in light of the biodiversity crisis and I’m delighted that we’re able to in turn increase funding to important initiatives such as this.”
Examples of projects that received funding in 2022 include:
- A survey of Lesser Horseshoe Bats in selected areas within Cork City.
- Removal of Japanese Knotweed and Winter Heliotrope.
- A project to commission a biodiversity survey of Blarney Bog pNHA 001857 in order to add to the knowledge of this wetland habitat and inform future management and conservation of this wetland area.
- A project to raise awareness amongst water users of the wetlands and waterbirds heritage of Cork harbour particularly focusing on promoting and encouraging responsible behaviour around important feeding, roosting and breeding areas for birds.
- A project to commission ecological surveys and the preparation of a Conservation Management Plan for lands owned and managed by Cork County Council at Garrylucas Beach.