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Additional €680,000 Funding for Blanket Bog Agri-environment Programme

Sep 22, 2021 | Biodiversity News

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

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Malcolm Noonan TD and Minister of State for Land-use and Biodiversity, at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett have today, Friday 10 September, announced additional funding of €680,000 to 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.

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 here.

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