The German „Serengeti“ – large-scale grazing with Heck-cattle in Thuringia


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Farmers and policy-makers discuss the future of high-nature-value farming, on the farm

policy-makers and farmers

EFNCP recently organised a farm visit for policy-makers and farmers in Co. Fermanagh (Northern Ireland), in conjunction with the Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB). Pat McGurn kindly hosted the event. His farm, highlighted in the recent EFNCP book High Nature Value Farming in Europe, contains a great range of semi-natural vegetation including species rich grasslands, lowland hay meadows, woodland and raised bog. The farm also contains area of lowland wet grasslands which are important breeding sites for Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) and Curlew (Numenius arquata).

Beef cows and calves grazing the lowland

Beef cows and calves grazing the lowland wet grassland creating the perfect habitat for breeding waders

The visitors included NGOs, Department of Agriculture and Rural development (DARD) and farmers with similar habitats in Fermanagh. It was an excellent opportunity to highlight the amount of work involved in maintaining these farming systems but also as a platform for exchanging information between DARD policy makers and farmers participating in the agri-environment scheme.

DARD are presently involved in designing a new agri-environment scheme for their next Rural Development Programme and EFNCP feel that this bringing together of nature conservationists, farmers and policy makers helps to increase understanding of the nature-conservation and cultural value of certain farming systems and contribute to improved measures within the Rural Development Programme.


Species-rich hay meadows were once a common feature in the Irish landscape but the switch to silage has changed their species composition. This farm still maintains a species-rich hay meadow which until recently was supported under agri-environment schemes. The reduction in the availability of such schemes will have a negative effect on the maintenance of these meadows.

Molinia meadows

Molinia meadows with Meadow thistle (Cirsium dissectum), the field also contains a population of Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) butterflies

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European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism
Date: 2024/05/24
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