Over 800 farmers in the northwest will be able to participate in a blanket bog agri-environment programme.
The Wild Atlantic Nature Results Based Payment Scheme (RBPS) rewards participating farmers for environmental performance by linking payments to the habitat quality, with higher environmental scores receiving greater payments.
The project will run in 2021 and 2022, and results from the project will inform the development and implementation of the next CAP measures in Ireland from 2023.
The pilot project is designed to test the efficacy of locally adapted results-based agri-environment programmes in upland and high nature value areas, such as those dominated by blanket bog.
The project also supports farmers in carrying out actions to improve the habitat quality.
This ensures that the incentives and supports are in place for farmers who wish to improve their land, as well as rewarding farmers for good past management.
The additional funding comes on the back of high levels of interest from farmers in the pilot Wild Atlantic Nature.
Project manager Derek McLoughlin explained: “We initially sought 70 farmers in the Owenduff-Nephin SAC area to participate in 2021. However, we received almost three times as many expressions of interest.
“This additional funding will enable us to increase the number of participants to more than 800 across our selected project areas this year and next,” he said.
Minister of State Pippa Hackett commented on the announcement: “We should see farmers being properly rewarded for both food production and protecting farmed habitats, along with the environmental services they provide.
“Further information and experience will be key to making their integration into the next CAP a success,” she added.
Applications to the pilot are closed for 2021 and will open for additional farmers in selected areas in the northwest in 2022.
The final selection of participants is based on a number of criteria, including extent of land in target sites and notable presence of ecologically important features.
Farmers with private and/or commonage land are welcome to apply.
Further details on the programme are available on the project website at www.wildatlanticnature.ie.