Payments under the 2015 Burren Farming for Conservation Programme have begun issuing to farmers.
This is the sixth year of the agri-environmental programme for farmers in the Burren region of north Clare and south Galway.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, who confirmed the payments, said the programme is implemented in conjunction with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Burren Life team.
He praised the work of the Programme Steering Group comprising members from Burren IFA, farm advisers, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the National Monuments Service, Teagasc, the programme management team based in Carron, and his own department.
Mr Coveney recalled he had provided €1m from national funds for the continuation of the programme in 2015 as unused Single Payment Scheme funds were no longer available.
“I am delighted to confirm the issuing of payments totalling over €950,000 to 156 farmers under this scheme to support high-environmental value farming in the Burren, which is one of Ireland’s outstanding landscapes and is known worldwide.
“This brings the allocation to participating famers by my department over the six years of the scheme to almost €6m,” he said.
Mr Coveney said investment under the BFCP has given rise to a range of important benefits, such as improved water quality in this very sensitive karst landscape, the protection of sensitive limestone springs from pollution, and allowing the Burren’s famous rare flora to emerge every spring.
In addition, over 163km of scrubbed-over animal paths have been reopened, enabling livestock access to under-grazed grasslands to restore some of Europe’s rarest grassland habitats.
The BFCP guarantees excellent value for money and works to improve biodiversity, water quality, cultural and landscape attributes on almost 13,000 hectares of Ireland’s flagship heritage landscape, he said.
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