Minister Poots made the announcement during a visit to the Mournes with the National Trust to assess the damage caused by the devastating wildfires in April 2021 and to discuss emergency plans for restoration and recovery.
He said: “I am pleased to make £4.3million funding available to 25 organisations to carry out projects which will help with nature recovery and connect people with nature.
“I was delighted to see so many and varied projects being successful in their applications. Projects range from the creation of nature-rich trails and walkways, outdoor recreation facilities, protection of our coastline and the restoration of habitats and peatlands.”
The funding will aid 71 environmental projects which build ecological and climate resilience, help people to connect with the natural environment, improve our best habitats and help to address threats facing our natural environment. To date, this brings the total that Minister Poots has allocated to environmental projects through the Environment Fund in 2021/22 to approximately £7million.
The Minister continued: “This funding will also support Covid Recovery and Green Growth by enabling environmental and access projects. Through this £4.3million funding programme, my Department is proactively delivering opportunities so that people can spend time enjoying nature, which in turn benefits mental health and well-being.
“I fully support partnership working between the community, government and businesses so that collectively we do all that we can to actively protect and enhance our varied countryside and wildlife.”
The National Trust is one of the 25 organisations set to receive grant aid. Commenting on the award, the Minister added: “In May, I gave a commitment to support environmental recovery within the Mournes and I am pleased that ‘The Mourne Wildfire Recovery Project’ will receive a share of the £4.3million funding.”
Heather McLachlan from The National Trust said: “We are delighted to welcome the DAERA Minister back to the Mournes to see and discuss the work that is in progress to support the recovery following the fire.
“Funding from DAERA will play a crucial role in enabling that recovery to continue. It is vital that all stakeholders work together to create a vision and long term management plan for the protection of this precious place for everyone."