The Burren LIFE Project, which ensures the protection of the unique biodiversity of the Burren, has won an EU LIFE nature award.
A total of 15 projects were selected as finalists for the keenly contested awards by an expert jury, who looked at their long-term sustainability, communication potential and broader impact on a national, European or global level.
Projects were also assessed for innovation, transferability, environmental benefits and improvement of conservation status.
The Burren LIFE Project was victorious in the Nature and Biodiversity category
The long tradition of farming in the Burren, which began over 6,000 years ago, has ensured that large areas of limestone pavements have remained free of scrub, creating a dramatic landscape.
The Burren LIFE Project (BLP) is working to ensure that the tradition continues into the future and that diverse landscape of the Burren will be projected for generations to come.
There are currently 320 farmers in the Programme and a third tranche will invite applications before the end of 2017.
The overall target for the new Burren Programme is to attract some 450 farmers into the scheme.
Following the victory, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, congratulated the BurrenLife Project on its success, saying “I am delighted for the Burren project to receive this recognition and it is a huge achievement for an Irish project to win one of these prestigious awards.”
Adding, the Minister said “This Burren project is an example of innovative locally-led projects under our Rural Development Programme which factor in local characteristics and ensure that agricultural activity is undertaken with regard to the local heritage and environmental priorities.”
The Burren LIFE project evolved from collaboration between local farmers and the National Parks and Wildlife Service in the late 1990s. It piloted innovative solutions to challenges faced by Burren farmers and created a blueprint for sustainable farming in the region.
The project identified and provided solutions to a number of key issues:
- For the issue of housing livestock over winter, the project extended the winter grazing on traditional winterages by 25%.
- A special supplementary feed was formulated, in a bid to encourage farmers to cut down on the use of silage.
- The project improved water facilities by installing nose pumps and tanks on 18 farms including 26 new troughs and pumps.
- The BLP restored 15,000 metres of internal stone walls using local labour.
- Scrub encroachment reduces biodiversity. To address this, the BLP cleared scrub from 100 hectares of priority habitats.