To mark the launch of Biodiversity Week, the Government has unveiled a €20.6m bog conservation project which covers land from the Slieve Aughties in Galway to north Donegal in a results-based scheme for farmers.
Officially launched on Friday 13 May in Ballycroy, Co Mayo, the LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature project aims to deliver environmental and social benefits through the conservation and restoration of blanket bog habitat in the northwest of the country.
The project has 35 sites covering more than 250,000ha along the western seaboard and is coordinated by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Nine other associated beneficiaries are involved in the project, including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Teagasc, Bord na Móna, Coillte, RTÉ, Fáilte Ireland, The Heritage Council, Northern and Western Regional Assembly and Universidade de Santiago de Compostela.
Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Malcolm Noonan said: "The protection of our blanket bog habitats is vitally important as we work to address our biodiversity and climate crises, and I’m confident that this project will deliver many benefits to the area – social, environmental and economic."
LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature has successfully launched a pilot results-based agri-environment payment scheme (RBPS) in the Owenduff/Nephin Complex Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for 2021, and will expand to Donegal, Sligo and other parts of Mayo in 2022.
The RBPS directly links farmer payments to the environmental quality of the farm.
"LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature is a fantastic project driven by the local community and delivering results for nature and biodiversity.
"The results based element is very important, because it supports farmers to really engage and deliver for their local ecosystem," said Pippa Hackett, Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine at the launch.
Another successful initiative of LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature is the invasive species control project to stop the spread of rhododendron in the Delphi area.