There are less than 100 land parcels in Ireland which are classed as abandoned, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said.

Of the close to 1.2 million parcels declared as part of Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), only a very small number of parcels were found to be fully abandoned, with no farming activity taking place in the parcel, the Minister said.

"In 2022, my Department completed a detailed study of abandoned lands that were declared as farmed as part of the Basic Payment Scheme.

"Based on these figures, it would be fair to say that instances of land abandonment are very low, almost negligible," he said in a parliamentary question put forward by Fianna Fáil TD Éanon Ó Cuív.

Habitat requirements

The Minister said in response that many habitats in the Irish landscape require management in some form to thrive, such as meadows.

Land abandonment, however small, can lead to the loss of diverse habitats and the loss of supporting habitats for flora and fauna, the Minister said.

"This is particularly significant for those species with specific lifecycle needs. Land abandonment can result in a decline in species diversity and loss of landscape diversity leading to disruption in natural processes.

"Lands that are abandoned can be prone to soil sedimentation leading to impacts on water quality, the spread of invasive species and the loss of important sites for migratory species.

"For my Department, it is important to recognise and support high nature value farming and extensive farmers and to ensure their vital roles as land managers is economically and socially sustainable in order to support their ongoing work to maintain environmental sustainability."