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Ireland - The Burren

High Nature Value Farmland - Ireland - The Burren

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Ireland

Part-time HNV Ireland officer 2016

Thanks to the continuing support of the Heritage Council, our long-standing collaboration with IT Sligo in support of HNV farming in Ireland has been maintained in 2016. Caroline Sullivan is working part-time as HNV Ireland Officer, as part of her wider role on HNV farming issues in IT Sligo as part of James Moran's team.

Our work continues its recent focus on advice and capacity building for local groups, especially in the context of the upcoming call for locally-led agri-environment-type projects under the 2014-20 Rural Development Plan. The work will complement our RBAPS work, the HNV-Link project and other HNV farming related projects in development in IT Sligo.

Supporting the locally-led development of agri-environment measures by the Blackstairs Farming Group

In 2015, the Blackstairs Farming Group, inspired by the opportunity to develop locally-led agri-environment measures set out in the Irish Rural Development Plan (RDP) for 2014-20, took the initiative and looked for help in designing a results-based agri-environment payment scheme (RBAPS) tailored to their local area. They secured financial support from the Heritage Council and Carlow and Wexford County Councils to pay for background surveys - work that was awarded to Mary Tubridy and Associates - and help in kind from the European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism (itself in receipt of European Commission and Heritage Council funding).

Many meetings were held locally, a desk-based data gathering exercise was undertaken and an ecological survey of the mountains was carried out over the summer. This information is set out in two background reports (report 1, report 2). Based on this work, a proposal for an RBAPS option for the Blackstairs Mountains has been drawn up, which will be further developed in 2016.

Although this proposal addresses the local needs of a particular area of SE Ireland, there is likely to be a considerable overlap with the issues and challenges affecting other uplands in Leinster and indeed further afield in Ireland. Given the likely limitations on the number of locally-led schemes the Department for Agriculture can accept when it eventually opens its call for tender, finding these complementarities and exploring the possibilities of collaborative approaches between areas will be priorities for action in the coming months.

Developing a Results-Based Agri-environment Pilot Scheme (RBAPS)

An EFNCP-led transnational partnership has been awarded a DG Env grant to develop and implement RBAPS measures in Spain and Ireland. The Irish work is being carried out on the lowland grasslands of County Leitrim and on the meadows and pastures of the Shannon Callows. More on this work ...

Making the CAP work for HNV farming in 2014-20

EFNCP is working in partnership with IT Sligo to ensure that HNV farming in Ireland (see, for example our NW Ireland panorama and our Burren showcase) receives workable, appropriately-funded support in the 2014-20 CAP round, with a package of complementary well-designed measures which can achieve concrete positive results for HNV farmers and the taxpayer.

As in the last three years, this work is funded by the Heritage Council and involves collaborating with a range of stakeholders to put forward a strong vision of how such support should be delivered, a view which we have refined and developed as the political process moves gradually to its conclusion. Links to our responses to official consultations can be found here.

We intend to address practical issues arising from the RDP, such as:

  • Helping local groups to respond to the upcoming call for locally-based agri-environment schemes.
  • How best to ensure complementarity between measures
  • How best to secure results on commonages. While commonage has recently receiving high levels of attention, including a report by a joint Oireachtas committee and collaborative background research by Government and farming organisations, the challenges of incorporating commonage successfully into CAP schemes are significant. EFNCP. Some of the commonage issues arising from the latest draft RDP documents were discussed in an EFNCP workshop held in Dungarvan on the 29th of May 2014. The subsequent draft RDP proposals caused considerable public debate; to inform these discussions, we produced a report based on six representative case studies.

Our input will draw on real-life examples, which we will also use to give a rapid ex ante evaluation of the proposals as they emerge.

Networking and awareness-raising

We are committed to maintaining and strengthening the links between HNV farmers in the various parts of Ireland, not just in the uplands, but on the islands and wherever it occurs on the lowlands. We will continue also to act as a bridge between various organisations on the HNV farming issue, building understanding and trust, and taking the lead on wider awareness-raising on the value and challenges facing HNV farming systems.



 
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European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism
Online: http://www.efncp.org/projects/hnv-farmland-irish-uplands/
Date: 2017/10/20
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