The resources found here offer some guidance on the relevant policy, research and practice dimensions of farming for nature in Ireland, as well as a bibliography of some relevant publications and a list of some useful websites.
How to help wildlife on your farm
Farm Wildlife UK was set up by a mixture of farmers and conservation organisations to help farmers choose the right measures for wildlife depending on the habitats available. They have identified the 6 most important areas for restoring wildlife on a farm: existing habitats, field boundaries, wet features, flower-rich habitats, seed-rich habitats and farmed areas. They give advice to farmers on each of these areas depending on the type of land it is and what the farmer aspires to achieve.
RSPB (in England) have put together a series of advice pieces on how to manage habitats for wildlife on your farm, from margins, banks and headlands to meadows, scrub land and buildings. Whilst it is more applicable to the UK farmer, much of the habitats and species are the same here.
Farm Habitat Management Guidelines Booklet
The EIP Bride Project in Co.Cork have put together a thorough guide on managing different habitats for farmland. Whilst focused on the type of land in north County Cork, much of it would be relevant to farmland and farm systems across the country. These are designed for farmers who want to improve biodiversity, water quality and carbon sequestration on their farm. To download this booklet go here.
See our own How To Guides with actions to take on the below habitats:
Managing your land for pollinators
The All Ireland Pollinator Plan has guidelines on how to help farmers improve their land for pollinators including
1) maintaining native flowering hedgerows,
2) allowing wildflowers to grow around the farm,
3) providing nesting places for wild bees,
4) minimising artificial fertiliser use and
5) reducing pesticide inputs.
To download the quick guide specifically for farmers go here.
Here are some other guides that they have available for viewing:
- Food for pollinators on the farm here
- Creating wild pollinator nesting habitats here
- Collecting and using pollinator friendly wildflower seed here
- Hedgerows for pollinators here
- Creation and management of wildflower meadows here
- Gardening for Biodiversity here
View this short video on what you can do on your farm:
View this short video on how to manage hedgerows on your farm for pollinators with farmer, John Fogarty
The CAP4Nature website below explains six principles put together by Irish agri-ecologists backed up with evidence-based examples that include a comparative note on how intensive agriculture and conservation agriculture differ in their impact on biodiversity. An great resource for reviewing what is possible on your land for nature and the evidence behind it.
Results Based Agri-environmental Payment Scheme
The results based programme network gives examples of numerous schemes across Europe. Central to all of these projects is engaging the knowledge of farmers in managing their land in a way that helps to improve biodiversity delivery as well as other environmental outcomes on the ground alongside their other agricultural activities.
This project explored the results-based method of delivering payments is that the amount of money paid to the farmer, reflects the quality of wildlife (biodiversity) that is delivered on their farmed land. Whilst the focus is mostly in Leitrim, Shannon Callows and Spain, many of the links below may be helpful to those exploring this more:
Farming for Nature: the Role of Results-Based Payments
‘Farming for Nature: the role of results-based payments’ is an edited book that collates several Irish experiences of developing and applying results-based approaches for the conservation of farmland biodiversity. This book is intended for an international audience of practitioners, policymakers and academics interested in results-based approaches for the conservation of biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services.
The book is available to download as a pdf (~13 MB) Farming for Nature: the Role of Results-Based Payments.
Each of the chapters is available to download separately in the links below (pdf, ~12MB).
- Chapter 1: Farming for Nature: Result-based Agri-Environment Schemes
This introductory chapter elaborates the aims of the book, the brief for contributors, and introduces the separate chapters.
- Chapter 2: Overview of European Agri-Environment measures with emphasis on a Result-based Approach
Provides a critique of European CAP agri-environment policies, and considers the advantages and disadvantages of action-based and results-based approaches to the delivery of agri-environment objectives.
- Chapter 3: Farming for Conservation in the Burren
Building on over twenty years’ experience in High Nature Value farmland, this chapter details the evolution, design and successful implementation of the first locally-led result-based agri-environment programme in Ireland – The Burren Programme.
- Chapter 4: Farming for Conservation on the Aran Islands
The AranLIFE project team detail the Aran habitats of priority conservation value and the linked farming practices necessary for their maintenance. They outline the project design, the choice of indicators, field scoring sheets, validation of results and payment system.
- Chapter 5: The KerryLIFE freshwater pearl mussel conservation project
This chapter describes the development and demonstration of result-based and incentivised measures to better manage the conservation of the critically endangered freshwater pearl mussel in lowland and upland farms in Co. Kerry.
- Chapter 6: The Results-based Agri-Environment Payment Scheme (RBAPS) Pilot in Ireland
This chapter outlines the RBAPS (Result-Based Agri-Environment Payment Scheme) project. It developed and trialled results-based methods for six different biodiversity targets in Ireland, and this chapter describes the objectives, scoring systems, management guidelines and results-based payments.
- Chapter 7: The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Farm Plan Scheme
The NPWS outline the main purpose of the Farm Plan Scheme, and how it promotes a focussed, targeted and innovative approach to farming for habitats and species of conservation concern in some of Ireland’s most important biodiversity areas.
- Chapter 8: Policy Environment: Ecosystem services and the role of Results-based Payment Schemes (RBPS) in integrated approach to agricultural land use
This chapter brings the discussion back to programme design and policy evaluation, and reflects on the opportunities and challenges in developing efficient payments for an ecosystem services approach.
- Chapter 9: Synthesis and reflections on selected results-based approaches in IrelandThis synthesis chapter collates and restates the key findings and lessons learned from the case studies. It discusses the complementarity that may be achieved between action-based and result-based hybrid approaches, and considers different approaches to structuring the relationship between payment and performance. It considers the future challenges in extending the application of results-based approaches within national and European contexts.
Guidance for policy makers to support High Nature Value farmland
Building on the work of existing studies, European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism and IT Sligo has developed the basis of an outcome-based agri-environment programme which can be used by policy makers to support HNV farmland in the RDP post 2014-2020.
- Report to download here.
- Case study of North Connemara and Aran Island can be downloaded here.
- Case study of Iveragh Peninsula can be downloaded here.
- HNV Link have put together a documents on What EU policy framework do we need to sustain High Nature Value (HNV) farming and biodiversity? View here.
Carbon Zero Farming
- Net Zero Carbon in the UK Farming Sector: A Practical Guide is a document published by Nature Friendly Farming Network (UK) on what farmers, policy makers and the public can do to work more towards net zero carbon in the farming sector here.
- The carbon plan for our farm is by Kim and Mirielle McCall (FFN Ambassadors 2018) on their thoughts how they plan to be more carbon friendly going forward. View document here.
Teagasc advisory booklets for biodiversity & climate change
- How farmers can help bees here
- Value of hedgerows here
- Creating new farms hedgerows here
- General healthy hedgerow management here
- Routine mechanical hedge cutting here
- Hedgerow rejuvenation here
- Bird nestboxes here
- Bats and their habitats here
- Irish wetlands guide here
- The Beef Carbon Navigator: Improving carbon efficiency on Irish beef farms here
- The Dairy Carbon Navigator: Improving carbon efficiency on Irish dairy farms here
Opinion pieces from Farming For Nature Ambassadors
The below are opinion pieces from Farming For Nature Ambassadors that may be useful to other farmers.
- The carbon plan for our farm is by Kim and Mirielle McCall (FFN Ambassadors 2018) on their thoughts how they plan to be more carbon friendly going forward. View document here.
- Calverstown House Farm by Kim and Mirielle McCall (FFN Ambassadors 2018) give an overview to the biodiversity, soil, animals and plants on their farm and how they manage it for biodiversity. View document here.
- Bogs and Their Ecosystem Services by Bridget Murphy (FFN Nominee 2019) gives an overview on why bogs are important and what farmers can do to preserve them for carbon storage and climate action services. View document here
Other Useful Farming for Nature Websites
Agricology aims to share practical information about sustainable farming based on agroecological principles. www.agricology.co.uk
Bat Conservation Ireland has drawn up some guidelines for encouraging bats to farmland using bat boxes here.
Birdwatch Ireland has information and advice for conservation some of the vulnerable farmland birds here
European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs) The EIP-AGRI projects allow farmers, scientists, advisors all interested in the health of the local agricultural sector and the environment to explore and implement innovative locally-led models to the challenges they face in Ireland. View all 23 projects here.
Farmer Clusters is a UK initiative that encourages farmers to come together to create a mosaic of habitats for wildlife with advice for specific animals that might be found on farmland. More information on www.farmerclusters.com
GLAS Scheme first opened in Februrary 2015 and is co-funded by the DAFM and the EU. This scheme aims to focus on the rural environment, focusing in particular on the preservation of various habitats and species, mitigating climate change and improving water quality. This scheme is now closed to further entries. www.agriculture.gov.ie/farmerschemespayments/glas
HNV Link Project creates a community of practice and knowledge by linking 10 areas throughout the European Union where HNV farming systems are prevalent. These ‘learning areas’ are used to evaluate innovation examples and gaps relevant to HNV systems. www.hnvlink.eu
Invasive Species Ireland have a range of support for invasive species that you may have on your farm including an ID field guide and the opportunity to report a sighting here.
Irish Bee Conservation Project look at habitat support and education for Irish bees. More information here.
Irish Peatlands Conservation Council provide a wide range of conservation management and restoration advice for owners of peatland areas here.
Irish Ramsar Wetlands Committee aims to promote the wise use and protection of Irish wetlands. For news, events and information on the wetlands of Ireland. View here.
Irish Wildflowers is a great sources of information on identifying different wildflowers that may be throughout your farm. You can search by colour, month or habitat. View here.
Nature Friendly Farming UK raises awareness of nature friendly farming, share insights and experience and work together for better policies for food and farming. View here
Plantlife UK has a good overview of all habitats, albeit in the UK. View www.plantlife.org.uk
Regenerative Farming Ireland is a nationally-based group focused on supporting this style of farming. View here.
RSPB UK gives a breakdown of why there is a decline in farm birds here.
Soil Association is a UK based charity that give technical support and advice on developing better practices for soil maintenance and other aspects of organic farming. www.soilassociation.org
Soil Food Web has some great videos explaining how to get good soil nutrients, what good soil structure should look like, weed suppression, avoiding pests and diseases on your crops, encouraging carbon sequestration in soils. View here.
The European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism is a European organisation focusing on the maintenance of low-intensity livestock farming. www.efncp.org
The National Parks and Wildlife Service manages the Irish State’s nature conservation responsibilities. As well as managing the national parks, the activities of the NPWS include the designation and protection of Natural Heritage Areas, Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas. www.npws.ie
The National Rural Network is a membership network for farmers, agricultural advisors, rural communities and others interested in rural development. It provides up-to-date information, case studies, seminars and conferences to maximise the beneficial outcomes of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 for rural stakeholders. www.nationalruralnetwork.ie
The Wildlife Trust UK gives a break down of the different species you might see on farmland in the UK. See here.
Water Friendly Farming is part of the Fresh Water Habitats Trust in the UK. It is a research demonstration project that aims to find out how successful agri-environment measures can be at protecting freshwater habitats and providing ecosystem services such as clean water and flood protection. View here.
Wild Farm Alliance is an US based organisation that aims to promote a healthy viable agriculture that helps to protect and restore wild nature. They have a series of guides that might be useful to the Irish farmer as well. View here.
Irish Conservation Farming Projects
Allow Project (IRD Duhallow) aims to restore the status of a high-status waterbody in an agricultural catchment (River Allow, Duhallow,
Co. Cork), through a collaborative locally led farmer-focused conservation measures. View here.
Blackstairs Farming Futures EIP aims to adopt innovative approaches to add value to the Blackstairs hill farming system whilst simultaneously improving habitat condition. View here.
Caomhnú Aran (Formerly AranLIFE) seeks to develop best conservation management practices of local farmers on designated Natura 2000 sites while harnessing local knowledge with scientific expertise of Project partners. www.aranlife.ie
Curlew Conservation Programme involves locally based teams of advisors, champions and nest protection officers, working closely with landowners and other local interests, to protect Curlew nesting attempts and to improve habitat quality. View here.
Danú Farming Group EIP aims to develop a conventional to biological farming transition programme system in an effort to produce food, feed
and forages of high nutritional quality. View here.
Hen Harrier Project is a results based agricultural programme targeted specifically at farmers with land designated for the protection of breeding Hen Harriers. www.henharrierproject.ie
Inishowen Upland Farmers Project EIP aims to improve the economic sustainability of farming High Nature Value land in Inishowen through the implementation of a range of innovative measures which also deliver on environmental sustainability by increasing biodiversity, improving water quality and combating climate change. View here.
Macgillycuddy Reeks Sustainable Agricultural Plan EIP aims to improve the economic viability of farming in the MacGillycuddy Reeks through the development of practical, achievable actions and innovative solutions to address the issues facing farmers on the Reeks. View here.
Maximising Organic Production Systems (MOPS) EIP aims to optimize organic horticultural production and improve continuity of short supply chains for the national market through the creation of a collaborative cropping system. View here.
Mulkear EIP aims to support innovation,technology and knowledge transfer for farmer led enhancement of water quality, in-stream habitat and riparian management in the Mulkear Catchment in Counties Limerick and Tipperary. View here.
North Connemara Locally Led Agri-environmental Scheme EIP aims to ensure the long-term economic viability of hill farming in the Twelve Bens/Maumturks area. View here.
Pearl Mussel Project is a locally led EIP whereby local farmers, researchers, and advisors are working together to develop a programme to ensure long term coexistence of farming and freshwater pearl mussel in eight priority catchment areas in the west of Ireland. www.pearlmussel.ie
Protecting Farmland Pollinators EIP aims to develop a flexible mechanism that encourages all farmers to make their farm more pollinator friendly in a way that will not impact on productivity. View here.
Talamhbeo is a membership-led organisation based out of East Galway that aims to create a better food system in Ireland, where all people have access to healthy, nutritious and affordable local food. www.talamhbeo.ie
The Bride Project is a locally led EIP that aims to design and implement a results-based approach to conserve, enhance and restore habitats in lowland intensive farmland along the River Bride in Co.Cork and Co.Waterford. www.thebrideproject.ie
The Burren Programme started in 2016 with 200 farmers, is a natural progression of the Burren LIFE project from the previous 16 years, continues to work closely with farmers, advisors and the EU, DAFM and NPWS to implement solutions to help manage and protect the Burren. www.burrenprogramme.com
The Conservation of Breeding Curlews EIP aims to prevent further losses to the Irish Curlew population through the protection and enhancement of known Curlew breeding sites in Ireland, and also to educate and compensate farmers and rural dwellers for creating and managing Curlew habitats. View here
The Ideal HNV Project project identified the distribution and extent of agricultural land of High Nature Value in Ireland. This research was carried out to address important knowledge gaps for policymakers on the national scale distribution of potential HNV farmland. It looks at the typical characteristics of HNV farmland and threats to this type of farmland. www.high-nature-value-farmland.ie
The Kerry LIFE Project aims to implement, in co-operation with farmers and forest owners, a wide range of measures that will enable farming and forestry to be practised, in a way that sustains both the pearl mussel population and the livelihood of the farm and forest enterprises. www.kerrylife.ie
The RBAPS Project was a three and a half year project in Ireland and Spain working with farmers and stakeholders developing ways to reward farmers for delivering biodiversity on their lands. www.rbaps.eu
The Wicklow Uplands ‘SUAS’ Project is designed to assist both commonage groups and individual farmers across the Wicklow and Dublin uplands and will ensure the sustainable management of the unique, natural habitats the area is renowned for. www.wicklowuplands.ie/projects/suas_project
Useful Wildlife Documents
Irish native bumblebee poster here
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