The Galway area of the ACRES CP is a highly varied landscape with large areas of species-rich grasslands, turloughs, wetlands and peatlands. There are also numerous environmental issues to address. In the south Galway area there will be a greater focus on water quality, peatland and wetland management and improving biodiversity on more agriculturally productive farms.
Changes from GLAS and Burren Programme
For farmers that were in GLAS and/or The Burren programme, there will be quite significant changes. Up to €7,000 can be earned in annual area-based payments. These payments will be based on field score, the higher the biodiversity and better the environmental management, the higher the payment. If fields are scoring low, and participants are not reaching the €7,000 the shortfall can be made up by using the budget to carry out more NPIs, (one-off plans). These NPIs which may help increase the score of the field. Examples of this could be replacing fence field divisions with hedgerows or creating strips of trees along rivers (Riparian Boundaries NPI). Payments can also be earned for wildlife-improvement measures planting wild bird cover, installing Barn Owl boxes and planting native orchards.
Improving biodiversity on conventionally managed farms
Results-based payments for habitats may not suit every farm, especially those which consist of primarily improved grassland. There are however a range of NPI actions which can be done on these farms to ensure an income while also contributing to overall biodiversity improvement in the landscape
Ideas for landscape actions
There is huge scope for carrying out Landscape Actions in the Galway area. Peatland restoration in the area's numerous peatland areas, landscape-level plans for improving water quality in rivers. Small-scale projects such as wildflower meadow restoration are just some of the myriad options available to farmers in ACRES CP.