Gildernew updates Environment stakeholders
Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has undertaken a series of meetings recently with key stakeholders across the local environment sector.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD)'s Agri-environment Programme was high on the agenda at all these meetings. The Minister also took the opportunity to acknowledge the contribution that these groups have made to the development of the new Countryside Management Scheme (NICMS).
Outlining the new Countryside Management Scheme, the Minister said:
"It is very important that we all work closely together in relation to the range of issues at the agri-environment interface, in particular reversing the decline in biodiversity.
"Agri environment schemes are the way forward for farming and the environment. My Department aims to have 50% of eligible agricultural land under environmental enhancement agreements by 2013. I wish to thank all the groups that have met with me to help achieve a better environment for us all."
The NICMS aims to improve biodiversity, enhance the landscape and protect our heritage and it is anticipated that the Scheme will open to applications late spring/early summer 2008.
The Minister also encouraged the environmental groups to input into the review of the Less Favoured Areas and indicated she would welcome their comments on the Red Meat Task Force Report, in particular the implications for the environment.
Over the course of the last two months, the Minister has met delegations from the National Trust, the Ulster Wildlife Trust, the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.