The Green Awards ceremony was held this week to honour exceptional LIFE projects across the EU. Irish project, based in Co Clare, BurrenLIFE took home the best-ever award at the ceremony in Brussels.

Started as a Teagasc Walsh fellowship, Brendan Dunford, with the help of local farmers in the Burren, researched the best method of farming that would preserve the unique biodiversity of the Burren. This process evolved into the first locally led agri-environmental scheme in Ireland and has had many visitors over the years, including Prince Charles.

There are currently 320 farmers in the programme and a third tranche will invite applications before the end of 2017. The overall target for the new Burren programme is to attract some 450 farmers into the scheme.

Green awards

A special edition of the annual LIFE awards, the Green Awards singled out projects that have had remarkable effects on the EU’s natural environment and in creating green jobs and boosting green growth over the past quarter century.

The award was presented by Environmental Commissioner Vella to Brendan Dunford and Sharon Parr of the Burren team.

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed congratulated the BurrenLIFE project on its success.

“It is a huge achievement for an Irish project to win one of these prestigious awards,” Creed said. “This Burren project is an example of innovative locally-led projects under our Rural Development Programme which factor in local characteristics and ensure that agricultural activity is undertaken with regard to the local heritage and environmental priorities.”

The EU LIFE programme has funded more than 4,000 projects over the last 25 years to the tune of €3bn. A total of 15 projects were selected as finalists for the awards by a jury, who looked at their long-term sustainability, communication potential and broader impact on a national, European or global level. Projects were also assessed for innovation, transferability, environmental benefits and improvement of conservation status.

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