EFNCP leads results-based scheme pilot
In traditional agri-environment schemes, payments are based solely on adherence to prescribed actions (e.g. grazing dates, livestock density limits). While potentially easy to administer - a box ticking exercise - they have been criticised for both poor delivery of environmental outcomes and for failing to involve the farmer in management decisions, undervaluing his skills and experience.
In 2014, DG Environment put out a call to trial a different type of scheme - one based on paying for concrete results on the ground (e.g. vegetation structure, presence of indicator species). Although such elements have been implemented in projects and agri-environment measures in various parts of Europe (see this news item), there is still a widespread perception that they would be complicated and expensive to design and implement, hence the need for demonstration schemes.
European RBAPS project
Only two projects were selected under the European Commission call, one of which will work in Ireland and Navarra, Spain. The project partnership consists of the European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism, Sligo Institute of Technology, BirdWatch Ireland, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, High Nature Value Services Ltd. and Gestión Ambiental de Navarra.
The project itself will last 3.5 years from the 1st of January 2015 and will work in 3 areas:
- Lowland semi-natural grasslands in County Leitrim, Ireland
- The Shannon Callows, Ireland
- Mediterranean upland areas of Navarra, Spain
While the bulk of the work will be carried out by the existing teams of the various partnership members, two new full-time posts have been created as a result of the project - a project manager employed by EFNCP and a project ecologist employed by IT Sligo.
For more details of this project, sign up to the project blog.
English RBAPS work
We are also helping to develop a results-based agri-environment measure in the Northern Upland Chain. EFNCP is supporting the Yorkshire Dales National Park to develop the outlines of a measure focussing on inbye habitats and collaborating also with Natural England to put in place a pilot scheme which actually makes payments to farmers.
RBAPS approach for Irish locally-led schemes
Our work in Ireland includes helping farmer groups to respond to the call for locally-led schemes under the 2014-20 RDP. This work also has a strong results or outcomes-based focus. Work is progressing particularly well in the Blackstairs Mountains, but we are also in touch with a range of other groups across the whole length of Ireland, including the islands.