• Over 800 farmers in North West will be able to participate
  • LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature’s Results Based Payment Scheme rewards participating farmers for environmental performance
  • Pilot Scheme will inform design of future schemes including those under the new CAP

The funding of €680,000 will facilitate increased participation of farmers in the Wild Atlantic Nature Results-Based agri-environment Payment Scheme pilot.

The pilot project is designed to test the efficacy of locally adapted results-based agri-environment programmes in upland and high nature value areas such as those dominated by blanket bog.

Results from the project, which will run in 2021 and 2022, will inform the development and implementation of the next CAP measures for Ireland from 2023 onward.

Welcoming the announcement, Minister of State, Anne Rabbitte said:

Blanket bog habitat in Ireland once covered an estimated 773,640 hectares.  Protected species found include dunlin, golden plover, whooper swan, Greenland white-fronted goose, hen harrier, merlin, lapwing, redshank, red deer, Irish hare and more.  Red Grouse have been reported at Sonnagh Bog SAC which is located at the northern end of the Slieve Aughty Mountains in County Galway near my home. The slopes are dominated by a magnificent purple moor-grass which covers a carpet of bog mosses. Flat areas occur on the lower slopes which are devoid of this grass and dominated by Bog Asphodel.

 Speaking about the expansion of the pilot programme, Minister Noonan said:

It is essential that we continue to improve Ireland’s performance in conserving important habitats such as blanket bog. Farmers and local communities are central to any conservation efforts and we must ensure that any decisions around peatland management works for them. This means investing in the skills and knowledge of those living and working in these areas and supporting incomes to make farming viable.

Minister Hackett said:

We have already seen the benefits, both to the environment and indeed to farmers, of results-based schemes through my Department’s successful EIPs; but further information and experience will be key to making their integration into the next CAP a success. That is why I am so pleased to see the model being used here.  As we become more flexible in our thinking about what constitutes a ‘productive farm’, we should see farmers being properly rewarded for both food production and protecting farmed habitats along with the environmental services they provide. The Wild Atlantic Nature project will be an example of that.

The Wild Atlantic Nature Results Based Payment Scheme (RBPS) rewards participating farmers for environmental performance by linking payments to the habitat quality, with higher environmental scores receiving greater payments. The project also supports farmers (or groups of farmers) to carry out actions to improve the habitat quality. This ensures that the incentives and supports are in place for farmers who wish to improve their land as well as rewarding farmers for good past management.

The additional funding comes on the back of high levels of interest from farmers in the pilot as Wild Atlantic Nature Project Manager Derek McLoughlin explained:

We initially sought 70 farmers in the Owenduff / Nephin SAC area to participate in 2021, however we received almost 3 times as many expressions of interest. This additional funding will enable us to increase the number of participants to more than 800 across our selected project areas this year and next. It will also ensure that we can test the results-based approach at the landscape level in preparation for the next CAP.

Applications to the pilot are closed for 2021 and will open for additional farmers in selected areas in the North West in 2022. The final selection of participants is based on a number of criteria including extent of land in target sites and notable presence of ecologically important features. Farmers with private and/or commonage land are welcome to apply.

Further details on the programme are available on the project website (www.wildatlanticnature.ie).

LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature is a €20.6m 9-year LIFE Integrated Project coordinated by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. It includes 9 other associated beneficiaries including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Teagasc, Bord na Móna, Coillte, RTÉ, Fáilte Ireland, The Heritage Council, Northern & Western Regional Assembly, and Universidade de Santiago de Compostela.

The funding announcement of €680,000 is in addition to the original budget of €3m to deliver a two-year pilot Results-Based agri-environment Payment Scheme (RBPS) within LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature

The Wild Atlantic Nature project is funded under the EU LIFE programme.

Natura 2000 is a European network of important ecological sites. It is comprised of Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Areas (SPA) designated by Member States under the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive, respectively. The Wild Atlantic Nature project sites are all SACs and Natura 2000 sites.

Details of the Wild Atlantic Nature Results-Based Payment Scheme are available here: Materials | Wild Atlantic Nature LIFE

Website: www.wildatlanticnature.ie

For project information contact: Dr Gary Goggins, Public Awareness Manager, LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature Gary.Goggins@housing.gov.ie / 085 8785286

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