A Northern Irish agri-environmental scheme which aims to protect biodiversity and mitigate against climate change has opened once again for applications.
The Higher Level of the Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS) Tranche 5 supports farmers to implement environmentally beneficial actions and works on their land.
It is anticipated that agreements will start on 1 January 2022 and run for five years to 31 December 2026.
EFS Higher Level is for land with environmental designations, such as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), and other areas of priority habitat.
NI's farming minister Edwin Poots said the agreements would help to bring the region's most important environmental sites under favourable management.
“As we emerge with hope from the Covid-19 crisis, we need to be looking at protecting these sites over the next five years and assisting farmers who are willing to take up this challenge.
"The application process must be completed online, and for those who may experience issues with access, my staff within the EFS team can offer assistance.
“I also hope to be able to announce a further application period for the EFS Wider Level later this year,” he said.
To check if land is eligible, farmers should visit DAERA Online Services where the fields for each farm will be marked as either Higher or Wider Level.
Only those businesses with eligible Higher fields will be able to submit an EFS Higher application.
Applications to the scheme must be submitted online before the end of Friday 21 May 2021.