ACRES Burren Aran
Arising from the Burren Programme (2015-2022) and Caomhnú Árann (2018-2022), the ACRES Burren Aran Co-operation Project (BUA CP) works with farmers in managing and conserving the rich ecological, archaeological, geological and cultural heritage of the Burren, Aran Islands and South Galway. BUA CP is financed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).
Three Elements of ACRES CP
Farmers can earn up to €7,000 per year in area based payments for managing species-rich pastures, where fields with higher scores receive higher payments.
There are budgets of up to €1,500 p/a per farmer available to spend on small-scale Non-Productive Investments (NPIs). NPIs are actions aimed at addressing environmental issues and objectives, and those that help the farmer better manage their farm and contribute to increasing field scores.
For larger-scale projects, funding for Landscape Actions of €2,000 p/a per farmer can be earned. These €2,000 budgets (totaling €10,000 per farmer for a 5-year contract) can be brought forward to undertake larger projects.
What are results-based payments?
Results-based payments are annual payments to farmers for ecosystem services delivered. These ecosystem services can range from managing grasslands for biodiversity, ensuring good groundwater quality and the preservation of cultural traditions. The payments are based on the field scores, the higher the score the higher the payment. Fields are scored during the summer, with the surveyor assessing a range of criteria that make up the field score. grazing out fields at the right time to allow for flowers to bloom, clean springs and streams, low levels of encroaching scrub and weeds, and appropriate feeding practices all contribute to a high field score. Conversely, the under-grazing or over-grazing of fields, and issues such as mucky springs, increasing levels of scrub taking over species-rich areas and damaging feeding practices such as ring-feeding can all contribute to reduced field scores. Where scores might be low due to such issues, a range of optional, co-funded actions are available, which the farmer can undertake to help increase the score. Such planned actions come in the form of NPIs and Landscape Actions.
What are Non-Productive Investments (NPIs)?
NPIs are small-scale works, nominated by the farmer and are designed to help the farmers manage their farm and contribute to increasing their field scores. For example, springs and streams can be easily damaged by high stock use. Walling off a spring and installing a water trough and pipe are good site enhancement works which can improve water quality and protect these habitats. The farmer can receive financial support (NPI payments) for building the protective wall and installing the pipe and water trough. Other NPIs include removing immature scrub from species-rich pastures, repairing walls, installing gates and enhancing access. NPIs can also come in the form of other types of habitat enhancement or wildlife support actions, such as planting hedgerows and wild bird cover strips, or creating a wildlife pond.
What are Landscape Actions?
Landscape actions are larger-scale works which can be undertaken by farmers within their own farm or in collaboration with other farmers. They can also be more complex or larger scale versions of NPIs which require the CP team to engage with state-bodies to ensure compliance with legislation and planning. For example, removing scrub by machine within an archaeological area in an SAC requires consultation with both the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the National Monuments Service (NMS).
The CP team will endeavor to work with the farmer when undertaking large-scale works which benefit both the farmer and the environment.