The Aran Islands have been nominated as one of the finalists for the 2020 European Natura 2000 Award by the European Commission, for their sustainable management of the farmed habitats of the Islands through their AranLIFE and Caomhnú Árann projects.

They are one of 27 finalists selected for nomination by an independent panel of experts out of 79 applications. All finalists for his award can be found here: https://natura2000award-application.eu/finalists

The finalist who receives the highest number of votes will receive the EU Citizens’ Award. Over 50,000 votes were cast for last year’s award, illustrating just how much the European public cares about Natura 2000.

You can vote for the Aran Islands here: https://natura2000award-application.eu/finalist/3260

Aran Islands

Overview of the AranLIFE and Caomhnú Árann Projects

The AranLIFE Project, that ran from 2014 to 2018, considerably improved the conservation status of 1,011ha of priority habitats on the island by facilitating optimum grazing on the island as well as improving access to land parcels, clearing scrub, and providing better access to water for livestock.

The follow up initiative, the Caomhnú Árann EIP-AGRI Project, which runs from 2019-2021, builds on the principles and work of AranLIFE, increasing the number of farmers involved in sustainable farm management techniques on the island from 67 to 127 and targeting an additional 500 ha of designated habitat. It is also trialling a new result-based agri-environment programme with a simplified scoring system to assess its effectiveness and using drone technology to reduce administration costs. More information about the Caomhnú Árann EIP-AGRI Project can be found in the NRN’s EIP-AGRI Operational Group booklet launched by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D. in April 2019. Please see: https://www.nationalruralnetwork.ie/eip-agri-news/eip-agri-irelands-operational-groups-2019-booklet-launch/

Thanks to both these projects, the priority habitats on the Aran Islands have a better conservation status and there is an enhanced understanding, appreciation and engagement of key stakeholders in the conservation of these habitats. The projects have also led to recommendations for appropriate support mechanisms to ensure the long-term future of farming on the Aran Islands.

You can vote for the Aran Islands here: https://natura2000award-application.eu/finalist/3260

Voting remains open until 11.59pm on the 15th of September 2020.