15th September 2021 | Press Releases

Green Ministers launch community volunteer programme and announce new funding for blanket bog conservation

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Minister O’Brien launches a New National Pilot Community Volunteers Programme

Joe O’Brien TD, Minster of State with responsibility for Community Development and Charities, launched a new National Pilot Community Volunteers Programme in partnership with Volunteer Ireland and Volunteer Centres, supported by Local Authorities.

This exciting new volunteering initiative is a government led, nationally formulated programme for the whole of Ireland which will be adapted to suit local needs and build resilience in our communities. It offers a new way to bridge the gap between communities that need support and the people who want to help. It gives people the opportunity to get involved in local events and festivals while also supporting more urgent needs that arise unexpectedly, like the community response to COVID-19.

“I am delighted to launch the New National Pilot Community Volunteers Programme. The launch is another step towards implementing the objectives of the National Volunteering Strategy and also the Government’s commitment in the Resilience and Recovery Plan”, Minister O’Brien said.

“Volunteers over the last 18 months have been phenomenal and this launch helps to strengthen the bond between Volunteers, Local Authorities and the community. I would ask all those that wish to take part in this programme to contact their local Volunteer Centre. Volunteering and community engagement is a key element as we reopen our society and support each other as we adjust to living with COVID-19.”

Ministers Noonan and Hackett announce additional €680,000 funding for blanket bog agri-environment programme

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Malcolm Noonan TD and Minister of State for Land-use and Biodiversity, at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett have announced additional funding of €680,000 to facilitate increased participation of farmers in the Wild Atlantic Nature Results-Based agri-environment Payment Scheme pilot.

Speaking about the expansion of the pilot programme, Minister Noonan said;

“It is essential that we continue to improve Ireland’s performance in conserving important habitats such as blanket bog. Farmers and local communities are central to any conservation efforts, and we must ensure that any decisions around peatland management works for them. This means investing in the skills and knowledge of those living and working in these areas and supporting incomes to make farming viable.”

“We have already seen the benefits, both to the environment and indeed to farmers, of results-based schemes through my Department’s successful EIPs; but further information and experience will be key to making their integration into the next CAP a success”, Minister Hackett added. “That is why I am so pleased to see the model being used here. As we become more flexible in our thinking about what constitutes a ‘productive farm’, we should see farmers being properly rewarded for both food production and protecting farmed habitats along with the environmental services they provide. The Wild Atlantic Nature project will be an example of that.”

The Wild Atlantic Nature Results Based Payment Scheme (RBPS) rewards participating farmers for environmental performance by linking payments to the habitat quality, with higher environmental scores receiving greater payments. The project also supports farmers (or groups of farmers) to carry out actions to improve the habitat quality. This ensures that the incentives and supports are in place for farmers who wish to improve their land as well as rewarding farmers for good past management.

Minister Noonan launches new Strategic Plan for Leave No Trace Ireland

An ambitious new Strategic Plan to inspire responsible outdoor recreation over the next three years has been launched by Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan TD.

Speaking on the launch of the new Leave No Trace Ireland Strategic Plan, Minister Malcolm Noonan TD, said the new plan reflects a changing relationship with the great outdoors and a need for stakeholders to work together in its stewardship.

“We have all witnessed a remarkable reconnection to nature over the past year and this new Strategic Plan reflects that – and more. The ‘Great Outdoors’ has never been as important to us as they have been since the onset of Covid in 2020. Where the pandemic confined us, nature freed us, and many of us sought sanctuary in nature, be it through general recreation to more adventurous hiking, boating and camping. Looking after our natural heritage is a collaborative endeavour; we all play a role, and that is why a far-reaching plan such as this is welcomed.”