Following a successful pilot phase in 2018, on 24 April this year, I announced that applications were open for the 2019 peatlands community engagement scheme. The scheme, which is administered by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department, aims to encourage local communities, groups, schools and other interested parties to engage with my Department in relation to the conservation of raised bog special areas of conservation, natural heritage areas and other raised bog areas and to promote public engagement and awareness of our natural heritage.
The objective of the scheme is to support a diverse range of initiatives from events, education programmes, promotions, exhibitions, local area improvements, the development of conservation and management plans, amenity and local bog area improvements such as invasive species control near and within raised bog special areas of conservation and natural heritage areas or other raised bog areas. Applications were accepted for the scheme up to 4pm on Friday, 31 May 2019.
The 2019 scheme was advertised on the website of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (www.chg.gov.ie), on the website of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Departments (www.npws.ie) and through social media and media outlets. Advertisements were placed in a number of regional papers, predominately where raised bogs come within the landscape. An electronic copy of the terms and conditions of the scheme and the application form were also circulated to local authorities, national parks, visitor centres and to other interest groups and parties.
Applications received by the closing date will be evaluated in the coming weeks by a panel, established by my Department. The panel will make recommendations to me, as Minister, for funding of projects. Projects will be evaluated based on the information submitted and under the required criteria of the scheme.
It is anticipated that applicants will be notified whether they have been successful in securing funding under the scheme in early July.
In 2018, 12 peatland community initiatives were supported under the scheme to an amount of just under €137,000. This year, the budgetary allocation to the scheme is €200,000.
It is anticipated that the scheme will operate again in 2020. Officials from my Department are available to discuss the application process and the scheme itself with any interested party. It also would welcome any feedback on the scheme.