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 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 voluntary scheme that supports farmers to go above and beyond their statutory requirements for nature conservation is the Green Low-carbon Agri-environment Scheme (GLAS) administered by the Department of Agriculture. The National Parks and Wildlife Service runs a 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 Rural Development Programme schemes. NPWS is involved in a number of other initiatives to progress and shape agri-ecology policy at a national and European level, including the Results Based Agri-environment Pilot Scheme (RBAPS), AranLIFE, KerryLIFE and the BurrenLIFE Programme.
It is the responsibility of NPWS to see that designated sites are protected from significant damage. 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 can only be carried out with the permission of the Minister.