My Department is responsible for developing and publishing Ireland's National Biodiversity Action Plan. The most recent Plan (Ireland's 3rd) was published in October 2017 and includes a number of actions aimed at assisting local authorities throughout the country in their efforts to protect and conserve biodiversity in their areas. Local authorities undertake much valuable work in this sphere and several have produced local Biodiversity Action Plans which are an important element in the overall approach to halting biodiversity loss.
In support of the work carried out by local authorities, a pilot grant scheme was introduced in 2018 to assist local authority led biodiversity, with funding for this scheme doubled in 2019. Kildare County Council received funding under this scheme in support of a number of initiatives during the last year, such as the implementation of the All Ireland Pollinator Plan, biodiversity training for staff and an ecological audit of Kildare County Council Parks.
The Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme, operated by my Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service, seeks to raise awareness of the important role our peatlands have in contributing to our biodiversity and our natural and cultural heritage. The scheme encourages local communities, groups, schools and other interested parties to engage in the conservation and revitalisation of our raised bogs. Under this scheme, the Irish Peatlands Conservation Council was awarded funding to hold a ‘My Raised Bog’ education program, which provided field study experience for 300 young people from schools local in Co Kildare. Maynooth University, in conjunction with Lullymore Heritage Park, received support under this scheme to collect, analyse and radio carbon date core peat samples on Lullymore Bog and to hold workshops for interested community groups.
As part of the Seeds for Nature campaign which was launched at the 2019 National Biodiversity Conference, the Community Foundation for Ireland established a fund to engage ecologists to develop Community Biodiversity Action Plans. Grants from this fund support community groups across all 26 counties, including County Kildare, who wish to carry out ecological studies in their local areas, the goal of which is the development of a Community Biodiversity Plan with the support of a qualified Ecologist.