Green shoots of recovery in Burren as farm conservation plan takes root

PAYMENTS totalling almost €300,000 have been approved for Burren farmers for producing rare and wild flowers as part of a new Government scheme.

Michael Davoren, who takes part in the Burren Farming for Conservation Programme (BFCP), said yesterday he was confident “the cacophony of colour will be even louder in the Burren this year as a result of the programme”.

Mr Davoren said that “ancient farming practices in a modern-day context” are central to the growing of the species-rich grassland that contains the flowers. “The green shoots of recovery are literally there for all to see who now visit the Burren. A view of a number of participating farms located near Lemenagh Castle shows this.”

The three-year programme began last year and Programme Director, Dr Brendan Dunford, confirmed yesterday that €293,671 has been approved for the 117 participating farmers for producing ‘species-rich grassland’. He said in the first year of the scheme, a total of €660,000 has been approved for farmers. Grants range from €1,067 to €14,077.

The €3 million programme is jointly funded by the Department of the Environment and the Department of Agriculture and Dr Dunford said the programme “is at the forefront of ‘farming for conservation’ in Europe. This is by far the most positive development with regard to the heritage of the Burren in many, many years and with the right support, it can make a huge difference to the future of this amazing place.”

Mr Davoren, chairman of Burren IFA, said he is happy with how the project is progressing.

“We have developed a pioneering farm plan template, a totally innovative system of payment.

“Basically, we have created and implemented a whole agri-environment programme for the Burren from scratch over an eight-month period.

“Given the structure of the programme, we can say, hand on heart, that this programme offers superb value for money to the taxpayer, even in straitened times.

“I have every confidence that it will grow in stature and impact and there are twice as many farmers who would really love to be part of this. It’s our biggest regret that we couldn’t have more farmers involved from day one, but we are determined to bring them on board in the years ahead.

Dr Dunford said that the buy-in from the Burren farmers “has been really terrific. Farmers have been asking us to come out and look at the work to make sure they are doing it properly and have shown a great pride in having their own ‘scheme’ and having an input.”

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