Farm Plan Scheme for Biodiversity Conservation

Farm Plan Scheme for Biodiversity Conservation

** Applications Open for NPWS Farm Plan Scheme for Biodiversity Conservation**

*Waterford, 9th June 2023* – Green Party TD for Waterford, Marc Ó Cathasaigh, has welcomed news that the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has opened applications to the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme, urging interested farmers and landowners in Co. Waterford to consider applying. The scheme aims to support farmers and land managers in delivering actions that benefit habitats and species in areas of European and Irish importance for biodiversity.

For Dep. Ó Cathasaigh, the demand for schemes of this kind demonstrates a real appetite among the farming community to engage in nature-friendly practices.

‘In my experience, farmers take their role as custodians of our landscape very seriously. They want to make a good living from their land today, but they have an eye to the future as well, and the condition in which they hand the land on to the next generation.’

‘The Farm Plan Scheme has experienced significant growth in recent years, thanks to increased funding, and is set to expand further in 2023. It mirrors increased applications to other Agri-environmental schemes such as ACRES and the expansion of the Organics sector. That demand tells me that many farmers are looking to manage their land in a different way. Particularly in conservation areas, schemes like this can pay a huge dividend for nature while supplementing on-farm income.’

Since its launch in 2006, the Farm Plan Scheme has successfully supported farmers and land managers in implementing measures to enhance habitats and species in Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) under the Natura 2000 sites. Additionally, it aims to promote farmland biodiversity and serve as a platform for developing new conservation approaches applicable on a broader scale.

Over the past 15 years, approximately 900 Plans have been delivered, covering a wide range of nature interests, including the preservation of highly threatened birds such as Corncrake and Curlew, as well as other species of conservation concern. The Farm Plan Scheme has also contributed to the protection and management of diverse habitats, including species-rich grasslands, eskers, coastal dunes, fens, and turloughs. Currently, there are around 350 active Farm Plans across the country.

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan T.D., is now expanding that scheme with increased funding and inviting all interested landowners to submit their applications by the deadline of 4th August 2023.

Minister Noonan expressed his enthusiasm for the new call for applications, stating, “I am very pleased to announce the opening of a new call for applications to the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme in 2023. This new call builds on the additional funding I have allocated to the scheme each year since 2020, and the many wonderful new farm plans which are now in operation across the country as a result.”

“The Farm Plan Scheme supports and rewards farmers and land managers to deliver positive farm management on some of Ireland’s most important sites for biodiversity. The scheme has led to the creation of new solutions for nature conservation on farmland and delivers real benefits on the ground via direct action and positive changes in related policies. The scheme contributes as a significant part of Ireland’s wider efforts through agri-environmental schemes to address biodiversity loss. I greatly encourage eligible parties to get involved in this excellent scheme and make an application. I look forward to seeing a new group of farmers and land managers working with us to farm for nature in the coming years,” Minister Noonan added.

Interested applicants are required to complete the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme application form, available on the NPWS website ( or by contacting the Agri-Ecology Unit directly via email at The deadline for applications is 10:00 on Friday 4th August 2023.

The NPWS will prioritize plans that align with the Conservation Objectives of sites designated as Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, and Natural Heritage Areas. Intervention plans for sites requiring specific management actions in agreement with landowners will also be considered, typically led by the NPWS. Furthermore, Research and Innovation plans aimed at advancing knowledge and testing new methodologies to inform wider application will be given due consideration.

Applicants eligible for the scheme include those managing lands in designated Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, and Natural Heritage Areas.