2011-13 Working to make HNV farmland a future strength for Ireland
From 2011 to 2013 EFNCP has worked, with funding from the Heritage Council, and building on existing research and the experience of the Burren, to develop a 'next steps' approach to assessing the needs of and delivering support to HNV farming in the 2014-20 RDP. Although the HNV farmland concept has great potential in Ireland, it has not as yet been fully incorporated into Rural Development Policy.
Working on case studies as a means to identify threats, opportunities and practical solutions for HNV farmland, we worked closely with interested parties, government bodies, the farming community and local community groups. Our work has tried to feed this into the policy-making process, demonstrating at a local level how HNV farming can be incorporated into the RDP and other CAP support, as well as shedding light on some of the key technical issues which will have to be faced at a national level.
We carried out a range of project development work on the ground and helped prepare the application which eventually led to the launch of the AranLife project.
We held 3 workshops on the Aran Islands in which we gave an introduction to the project. The farmers described the factors making it difficult for them to maintain their low-intensity agricultural activity and after the workshops a HNV farmer representative group was established on the islands. We organised a visit to the Burren by some of the islanders, improving their knowledge of the BFCP. Draft costings were completed along with a gap analysis to identify where further information was required, summarised in a report (3.040 KB).
A High Nature Value farmland case study (478 KB) was completed for the Iveragh Peninsula in Co. Kerry based on desk research, stakeholder interviews and consultation meetings. The study highlights the problems facing farmers in the area and how this was affecting the quality of some NATURA 2000-sites. The report makes recommendations as to the next steps in developing support for HNV Farming in the area.
The initial phase of the work in North Connemara involved reviewing the existing academic work carried out in the area and establishing contacts with the farming community for future development work. The Irish Uplands forum had investigated the socio-economics of the area and a range of studies by NUI Galway, the Heritage Council and the LACOPE project had extensive work on the ecological aspect of the area with the latter investigating the role of agricultural systems and the likely vegetation successions of grazing cessation.
By engaging with the farming community through locally held meetings it was possible to relay some of the results and conclusions of this work so that they can realise the important role of low intensity farming in nature conservation.
In June 2012 IT Sligo in partnership with EFNCP has completed a week long training programme in Scotland and Northern England. The aim was to raise the capacity in common land policy and management of professionals involved in knowledge transfer and rural development.
Read more: Lessons for Irish commonages from England and Scotland?