Dáil Éireann - Volume 527 - 05 December, 2000
Written Answers. - Rural Environment Protection Scheme.
Mr. Sargent Mr. Sargent
163. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development if he will act to support his UK counterpart, Mr. Nick Brown, in his efforts in the EU to preserve precious sites of biodiversity and wildlife habitats especially hedgerows which are also fast disappearing in Ireland. [28518/00]
Mr. Walsh Mr. Walsh
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): The matter referred to falls in the first place within the remit of the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands. However, measures to preserve such sites  receive major support through the rural environment protection scheme. REPS is a critical element in the integration of environmental and agricultural policy in Ireland. It is concerned with the establishment of farming practices and controlled production methods that reflect the need for conservation, landscape protection and wider environmental problems. Participation in the scheme involves specific undertakings in relation to protecting wildlife habitats and endangered species of flora and fauna. At the end of the first REPS programming period, 1994-99, there were more than 45,000 participants, farming over 1.6 million hectares. A second and broadly similar scheme introduced on 27 November, which will run to the end of 2006, is expected to see the number of participants grow to 70,000.
Measure 2, 4 and 5 address issues relating to habitat, wildlife and landscape protection. They include the implementation of a grassland management plan for sensitive areas aimed at reducing poaching, overgrazing and soil erosion to protect habitats and grassland flora; the protection of distinct areas of natural and semi-natural wildlife habitats; and the management and maintenance of field walls, hedgerows and boundaries for the benefit of inhabiting wildlife. Measure A of REPS, known as Supplementary Measure A under the 1994-99 scheme, lays down mandatory additional conditions for participants with lands in target areas, namely natural heritage areas, special areas of conservation, special protection areas and commonages.
Dáil Éireann 527 Written Answers. Rural Environment Protection Scheme.