Shane McEntee TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, recently announced the re-opening of the Neighbourwood Scheme, a forestry support scheme to assist communities to create their own ‘close-to-home’ woodland amenities.
The Neighbourwood Scheme, operated by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, is an exciting package supporting the development of ‘close-to-home’ woodland amenities for local people, designed and managed through partnerships involving local communities and local authorities. Neighbourwoods provide communities with a natural wooded setting to visit and enjoy on a regular basis, for walking, relaxing, exercising and for excursions with family and friends. Neighbourwoods also promote health and well-being, represent an ideal educational resource for the young – and not so young – people to learn about the environment, and add immensely to the local environment, landscape and wildlife.
Funding can be provided to Local Authorities and other groups to improve existing woodlands, to develop new woodland areas and to install suitable recreational facilities such as paths, signage and educational facilities. Ideally, sites proposed under the scheme should be located in or near a centre of population, including a village or town, with good linkage to other recreational and natural amenities. This will maximise the social, recreational and educational benefits of the neighbourwood as it develops as part of the local landscape.
In announcing the re-opening of the Scheme, Minister of State McEntee said: “The Neighbourwood Scheme is a significant one for our towns and local communities. These projects are typically developed by a partnership of a Local Authority and community and recreational groups to provide a woodland amenity that people in the area can visit and enjoy. The resulting woodland amenity can also bring tourism benefits as well as providing a valuable biodiversity habitat. Neighbourwoods provide a fantastic focus for community life and local spirit and the development of such projects throughout the country would be a fitting celebration of 2013’s ‘Year of the Gathering’”
The Scheme will open immediately with a limited timeframe for receipt of applications. Completed application forms under the Neighbourwood Scheme must be received in the Department’s offices at Johnstown Castle Estate, Wexford by 5.30 pm on Monday, August 20, to be eligible for consideration.
The scheme document and application form are available on the Department’s website. The application must be accompanied by all supporting documents including an assessment by the applicant of the extent to which the application meets the above criteria.