Developing Farm Plans
Mary our Project Ecologist develops annual farm plans with participant farmers outlining actions which are beneficial to the health and bog habitats that are rare and protected habitats in Europe, after assessing the habitats on the ground. Farmers are encouraged to improve the quality of these habitats and are scored for the ecological and environmental condition of the land parcel. Habitat payments are made according to their scores. Actions undertaken to improve land parcel scores include controlled grazing, bracken treatment and rhododendron treatment.
The delivery of The MacGillycuddy Reeks EIP Project is supported by three types of payments:
A results-based Habitat payment
Payments to farmers are based on habitat quality scores earned at land parcel level. This is determined using a habitat scorecard developed by the MacGillycuddy Reeks EIP Project Team. The habitat quality relates to specific quantitative and qualitative environmental attributes. These reflect habitat condition, landscape value and the richness of biodiversity in the area. This will be supported through controlled grazing.
An actions based payment
This is whereby the farmers aim to improve the environmental condition of their farm holdings through the implementation of actions from agreed individual or commonage work plans.
- Rhododendron Removal: we propose to control and eradicate rhododendron from certain sites. This will be undertaken as per the methodology developed in the adjoining Killarney National park, involving a combination of stem injection, foliar spraying of regrowth and hand pulling depending on the age, location and density of rhododendron.
- Bracken (fern) Removal: Following site-specific assessments, it is proposed to use a combination or one of the following: targeted spraying, re-introduction of suitable livestock for trampling and cutting.
- Training: Practical training will be delivered each year as part of the project and will cover habitat awareness and management, handheld pesticide application, controlled burning etc. to increase awareness of best practice, and allow for sharing of information and skills.
A supporting-actions payment
- This includes a Landowner Ranger System: Increasing awareness amongst recreational users on such topics as minimizing erosion by staying on existing paths, Leave no Trace, farming tradition, ecology and why dogs are not permitted etc. thereby increasing positive interactions between landowners and recreational users.
- Trail Maintenance and Definition: recreational pressure is impacting on agricultural activities, has resulted in a loss of vegetation (affecting habitats & soils) and the outward spreading of a damaged or degraded zone within this sensitive upland environment. This action aims to maintain repaired existing paths to encourage walkers to continue using these paths.
To improve the conservation status of Annex Ι heath and bog habitats, in the MacGillycuddy Reeks.
An annual administration payment is also made to each farmer/participant to cover completion of paperwork (commencement of worksheets, environmental risk assessment, claim forms etc.) and the time spent meeting with EIP project staff to discuss issues on-site and agree actions outlined in the work plan as well as ongoing liaison with staff as required.