€1.2m Scheme to Improve Environmental Quality of Agri-Lands Surrounding Raised Bogs

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett has launched the new FarmPEAT EIP project. The project is developing a locally-led, innovative, results-based farm scheme to improve environmental quality for farmers who manage lands that surround some of Ireland’s finest remaining raised bogs. The launch took place in Clara, Co. Offaly and is the latest in series of EIP projects funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) under Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020. In total, the Department has committed €64 million to these EIP projects over the lifetime of the RDP.

Speaking at the launch Minister Hackett said, “it’s encouraging to see work beginning on these inland bogs. Raised bogs represent one of the most valuable natural ecosystems in Ireland and the appropriate management of adjacent agricultural lands that surround them can play an important role in maintaining and enhancing their long-term conservation value.”

Commenting on how the work will be undertaken, the Minister continued, “the project will work with local farmers to design and trial a programme especially adapted to the local landscape. It will reward farmers for improved management of habitats on peat soils along with other important landscape features such as eskers, field boundaries and watercourses. All of that will I believe combine to deliver enhanced environmental outcomes.”

Caroline Lalor, the Project Manager added,“we are delighted with the interest that local farmers have expressed in the Project. We are offering 42 farmers a contract for the first year and are planning to offer additional places next year.”

The new locally-led programme brings together farmers, farm advisers, scientists, and researchers to deliver a targeted landscape level intervention which places the farmer at the heart of the process to enhance the environmental quality of raised bogs. The programme will be results-based in that farmers will get paid based on the scores they achieve, with higher scores, indicating higher environmental quality, securing higher payments. It is hoped that this programme will form a basis for future agri-environmental schemes in these areas. As such it presents an opportunity for farmers to be involved in developing policy that could provide long term environmental and economic benefits to their communities into the future.

Thanking those involved Minister Hackett concluded, “as we strive to reach challenging climate change targets, the work planned here will help Ireland transition towards more sustainable use of our peatlands. So, I want to congratulate Caroline Lalor, the project manager of FarmPEAT, on the work done so far in setting up this exciting new project. She has a strong team with her, and I wish them all every success in the future.”

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