Farmers taking part in the Pearl Mussel Project have improved habitats on plots of their land to conserve the freshwater pearl mussel, an endangered shellfish.

A results-based scheme, the average habitat score in 2020 was 6.5, up from 6.3 in 2019.

Mary McAndrew, catchment officer with the project, told the Irish Farmers Journal: “Our farmers have completed some great work over the past year on putting measures in place to help slow the flow from drains into the main river; removal of invasive species, installing crossing points, fencing watercourses.

“There are also farmers who have seen an increase in score just by slightly changing their grazing management on plots.

“This is all reflected in the increase in scores,” she said.

She said that farmers are very keen about the project, with a total of 455 farmers taking part in the scheme.

The average payment in the scheme was €3,500 in 2020.

McAndrew added that both Connemara National Park and Glenveagh National Park are using the scorecards from the scheme to improve habitats for the shellfish in the parks.

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Watch: farmers reap the benefits of results-based Pearl Mussel Project