The majority of Ireland's landscape, habitats and species has been shaped by farming over hundreds of years. There are many habitats and species that would not exist in particular areas without appropriate farming and virtually all of Ireland's High Nature Value farmland areas require the type of farming that produced the conditions in the first place, to continue.
Under the conditions of cross compliance, farmers in receipt of basic payment must adhere to Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) and abide by the Birds and Habitats Directives, in addition to other Statutory Management Requirements.
The primary national Agri-Environmental Scheme (AES) that supports farmers to go above and beyond their statutory requirements for nature conservation is administered by the Department of Agriculture. The National Parks and Wildlife Service runs a smaller scale Farm Plan Scheme, working hand in hand with farmers to develop bespoke solutions to create, maintain and enhance conditions for some of Ireland's rarest and most threatened flora and fauna. In turn, the experience gleaned from such efforts can inform more intuitive, flexible and effective measures under the larger AES co-financed by Europe. NPWS is involved in a number of other initiatives to progress and shape agri-environmental policy at national and international levels, including for example Wild Atlantic Nature and Corncrake / Traonach LIFE.
Where a landowner is considering making changes on his farm that might affect the wildlife habitat in a designated area, he must consult the local conservation ranger beforehand. 'Notifiable Actions' and 'Activities Requiring Consent' are activities or operations that might be damaging and should only be carried out with the consent of the Minister.