Teagasc Agriculural Land Use Workshop, RDS Dublin, 19th May

Ireland Land Cover & Land Use

  • Teagasc Land Use Change Workshop, May 19, RDS (am)

Land Use and Land Mobility is a complementary driver of future productivity growth in Irish Agriculture. . At this workshop a report prepared by Teagasc on Agronomic, Economic and Policy Drivers of land Use Change will be launched. An outline of the programme is as follows:

Chair – Paddy Brown        -(Head of Crops, Environment and Land Use Programme, Teagasc)

  • 1045 Opening of Workshop
  • 1055 Oireachtas Committee Report, “Land Use – Maximising It’s Potential” (Andrew Doyle, TD, Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine )
  • 1120 Agronomic, Functional Soils and Environmental Drivers for Land Use Change (Rogier Schulte, Reamonn Fealy, Teagasc)
  • 1140 Policy and Economic Drivers of Land Use Change (Cathal O’Donoghue and Anne Kinsella, Teagasc)
  • 1200 Economic and Environmental Scenarios for Land Use Change (Trevor Donnellan, Teagasc)
  • 1220 Discussion
  • 1245 End

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Calculating a nature value index for Irish farms

Researchers from IT Sligo and NUI Galway (including two members of the IDEAL-HNV team) have just published a paper in Ecological Indicators on Development of a nature value index for pastoral farmland-A rapid farm-level assessment. The paper proposes combining three simple measures, proportion of improved agricultural grassland, stocking density per hectare of Utilisable Agricultural Area (UAA) and length of linear habitats (field boundaries) to give a value on a ten point scale that indicates the nature value of the farm. The methods used could be applied to other systems in other European countries.

The index was developed based on farms in counties Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim and tested on farms in east Galway. The index could be incorporated into farm sustainability indices as the nature value component, or adapted for labels such as Origin Green. It could also be applied to identify High Nature Value farmland as farms with high nature value index scores are most likely HNV farms. Click here or contact Pamela Boyle, James Moran or Caroline Sullivan for further details.

Cattle grazing by the shore in Co Sligo

Cattle grazing by the shore in Co Sligo

Stakeholders meeting for IDEAL-HNV project

The IDEAL-HNV project hosted a stakeholders meeting on April 9th in IT Sligo. The event was held in parallel to the Environ 2015 meeting. Some preliminary results on HNV typologies were presented (based on the 2013/2014 fieldwork). A number of stakeholders were in attendance including representatives from the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Department of Agriculture, Mountaineering Ireland, farmers, local community groups and organisations with HNV farming interests.

Participants raised issues such as CAP funding limitations, the need to get other agencies involved in discussions, the possible policy implications of the results of the project and the need for dissemination of the results to the wider public. We have taken all the views on board and aim to incorporate them into future analyses, report writing and information dissemination sessions.

Further similar discussions  will no doubt take place at the Irish Uplands Workshop in Trinity College, Dublin next Wednesday (April 15th) and at the British Ecological Society (BES) agricultural ecology annual conference in Belfast next Wednesday and Thursday (April 15th and 16th).

Discussion during the stakeholders meeting

Discussion during the stakeholders meeting

IDEAL-HNV progress update

IT Sligo

We are busy with data entry and analyses. All of the 102 farm habitat surveys and farm questionnaires have now been digitised. There are a number of other tasks remaining including calculating field boundary lengths (another digitising task), stocking densities and lots of other farm-level variable calculations that we need to complete before we can begin describing the types of HNV farms in Ireland.

Some preliminary results were presented at a meeting of the British Ecological Society in Lille, France in December. The initial analyses (with 64 farms) were interesting  (click here for poster) and we are looking forward to seeing what the full analyses will tell us.

Teagasc

SPOT 7 satellite data of 1.5m spatial resolution is now available and will be used to classify HNV farmlands in the Comeragh Mountains, Co Waterford. Broad methodology on image segmentation and classification has been developed and applied to sample data. This will be used to  to develop a final methodology for farm-scale HNV maps.

We analysed the distribution of HNV farmlands in the Irish uplands using a coarse resolution HNV map and digital elevation model data. Outputs of the work will be presented at the Agricultural Research Forum 2015 in Tullamore, Offaly early next week.

True colour SPOT 7 satellite image of Comeragh Mountains. Date of satellite pass is October 7 2014

True colour SPOT 7 satellite image of Comeragh Mountains. Date of satellite pass is October 7 2014

Upcoming events in April

Hi all,

There are a number of events in April that may be of interest so I thought I’d post about them all here. The IDEAL-HNV team will be presenting results at all of these.

Environ will be on from April 8th-11th in IT Sligo. The deadline for abstract submission is Feb 18th

For further information and to register etc. see http://www.esaiweb.org/environ/

Uplands Workshop 2015 – Research for a Sustainable Future is organised jointly by the Irish Uplands Forum and the Trinity Centre for Biodiversity Research, and is to be held at TCD, April 15th. The deadlines for abstract submission is Feb 15th

For further information see this flyer or http://www.irishuplandsforum.org

British Ecological Society (BES) Agroecology meeting will be held in Queens University Belfast on April 15th-16th. The deadline for abstract submission is March 15th

For further information see http://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/besaeg2015/

Hope to see ye at some of these

Poster on preliminary data analysis on 64 farms in the IDEAL-HNV project  on display at the BES AGM in Lille, France

Poster on preliminary data analysis on 64 farms in the IDEAL-HNV project on display at the BES AGM in Lille, France

Job Vacancy Ecologist IT Sligo: Results Based Agri-environment Pilot Scheme (RBAPS) project in Ireland and Navarra.

The Institute of Technology Sligo wish to appoint an Ecologist (Grade = Post Doctoral Researcher) for the Results Based Agri-environment Pilot Scheme (RBAPS) project in Ireland and Navarra. This is a specified purpose contract position to the 30th of June 2018 with a starting salary of €35,743-€49,487. The project partnership consists of EFNCP, IT Sligo, BirdWatch Ireland, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and High Nature Value Services Ltd. in Ireland and Gestión Ambiental de Navarra and EFNCP in Spain. The post is part funded by the European Commission (DG Environment)

Job specifications/application forms may be accessed and applicants may apply online for the above position on our website at: http://itsligo.ie/vacancies. Closing date for receipt of applications is Friday the 23rd of January 2015 at 12:00 noon.

The Institute of Technology, Sligo is an equal opportunities employer.

Job opportunities Results Based Agri-environment Pilot Scheme (RBAPS) project in Ireland and Navarra

Job Vacancy: RBAPS Project Manager
The European Forum for Nature Conservation and Pastoralism (EFNCP) wish to appoint a Project Manager for the Results Based Agri-environment Pilot Scheme (RBAPS) project in Ireland and Navarra. Post is for maximum of 3.5 years with starting salary of €38,664. The project partnership consists of EFNCP, IT Sligo, BirdWatch Ireland, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and High Nature Value Services Ltd. in Ireland and Gestión Ambiental de Navarra and EFNCP in Spain. For full details and how to apply see http://www.efncp.org/download/EFNCP_RBAPS_Project_Manager_Spec.pdf. Closing date for applications is the 9th of January 2015

Pre-Call announcement: Ecologist RBAPS Project Ireland
This is a pre-call announcement. In January 2015 IT Sligo will be looking to fill a contract research post in the area of Ecology for the Results Based Agri-environment Pilot Scheme (RBAPS) project. The post will be for a maximum of 3.5 years and will be based in Sligo. The post will form part of larger study (RBAPS) undertaken by EFNCP, IT Sligo, BirdWatch Ireland, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and High Nature Value Services Ltd. in Ireland and Gestión Ambiental de Navarra and EFNCP in Spain (funded by DG Environment of EU Commission).
The specific objectives of the pilot projects, as set out by the European Commission, are:
-To promote the design, development and use in rural areas of result-based remuneration schemes to conserve and enhance biodiversity;
-To increase the understanding of factors that contribute to the success or failure of such schemes;
-To identify opportunities and conditions for increasing the use of such schemes in the EU and in particular in the context of the CAP;
-To explore the potential for such schemes to be applied widely in the rural countryside and beyond grasslands, e.g. for the protection and enhancement of pollinators and soil biodiversity;
-To demonstrate the potential of these schemes to achieve the ecological results they are designed for by developing, testing and applying widely appropriate monitoring to verify the ecological results achieved;
-To promote and increase awareness and better understanding of the benefits of results based remuneration schemes particularly within the rural community.

A formal advertisement will be posted early in the new year.
In the meantime please alert colleagues of this opportunity.

People, Nature and Food: A Vision for a Sustainable Future

On the 24th of October, as part of the Burren Winterage Festival, many of the IDEAL-HNV project members took part in, helped organise and attended the Burren Winterage School.
The day started off with an opening address from James Moran. The text of that address is available here.

James Moran (IT Sligo) delivering the opening address

James Moran (IT Sligo) delivering the opening address

This was followed by “Stories from the Land”. Six scientists/rural development specialists and seven farmers from some of Ireland’s most well known landscapes presented case studies from their areas and explored a vision for a sustainable future for these areas.

1. The Aran Islands: Patrick McGurn and Maire Ni Conghaile

2. Sligo/Leitrim: Pamela Boyle and Tommy Earley

3. The Shannon Callows: Catriona Maher and Tom Loonam & Donie O’Connell

4. Donegal: Lorcan O’ Toole and John McGilloway

5. The Slieve Aughties: Caroline Sullivan and Martin Collins

6. The Burren: Sharon Parr and Michael Davoren

Each talk gave an insight into that case study area but each was also very different with a variety of topics touched upon. The importance of the areas from a biodiversity point of view was easily established but the issues faced by farmers in these HNV areas were different.The socio-economic reality of some of these areas was very well summed up by John McGillaway, Lorcan O’ Toole and Martin Collins. The impacts of changing management practices on the Burren and the Shannon Callows were also highlighted as well as the successes (and otherwise) achieved through working with the scientific community. There were some great stories, and innovative suggestions (particularly in relation to rushes) from the farmers.

Shannon Callows farmers talking about farming floodplains

Shannon Callows farmers talking about farming floodplains

This was followed by an afternoon panel discussion with Gwyn Jones (EFNCP), David Meredith (Teagasc), Eileen O’Rourke (UCC) and Andy Beasdale (NPWS) and chaired by Cliona O’Brien (NPWS).

Gwyn Jones (EFNCP) making a point at the Burren Winterage School

Gwyn Jones (EFNCP) making a point at the Burren Winterage School

Closing remarks were made by Joe Mannion (ex UCD School of Agriculture) & Michael Berkery (Chairman of FBD). Food markets, the globalisation of food production, land sharing and land sparing and current national and international policies were all raised here.
The event was a great success and it was enriched by the active and open participation of farmers from these HNV areas. However it is not enough to simply talk about supporting these areas. We hope to build bigger and bigger networks and work with the government and other agencies to ensure action.

Project fieldwork update

Fieldwork for the 2014 field season for the IDEAL-HNV project commenced on April 14th of this year. Data gathered in 2014 will be combined with the data from the Leitrim pilot giving us case study information from ten sites across the country.

Farmers in each area participated in the research, answering some management questions and allowing the habitats on their farms to be mapped. The sites selected all had high HNV potential but the participating farms were randomly selected.

Ten farms were surveyed at each of the following sites:

Site County Justification
North West Leitrim Leitrim Lowland wet grasslands
Beara peninsula Cork South west coastal farms
Slieve Aughty mountains Galway, Clare Forestry dominated site with Special Protection Area (SPA) designation for Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Connemara Galway West of Ireland farms dominated by peatland habitats
Floodplains Galway, Westmeath, Offaly, Mayo Six farms with land on the floodplains of the Shannon and 4 farms with land adjacent to the river Moy were surveyed
Wicklow uplands Wicklow East of Ireland farms with high proportions of upland peatland habitats
Island farms Cork, Galway, Donegal HNV systems on islands. Four farms surveyed on each island
Comeragh Mountains Waterford South east farms with upland peatland habitats
The Burren Clare Farms with lowland dry grassland and wetland habitats
The Inishowen peninsula Donegal North west coastal farms

 

The last farm was surveyed on September 24th. It was a wonderful summer for fieldwork. I could count the number of days I got soaked to the skin on just one hand. This certainly contributed to the success of the field season. Thanks to my field assistants on four of my field days; Chloe Sullivan, Shafique Matin and Louise Duignan and a special thank you to each of the farmers who gave me their time and allowed me to walk on their land.

The next step is digitising all the field data and analysing the information from our 102 farms.

In the meantime I’ll leave you with a selection of photos from the summer.

Thanks,

Caroline

 

Upland habitats in the Comeraghs, Co. Waterford

Upland habitats in the Comeraghs, Co. Waterford

Species-rich grassland in north Donegal

Species-rich grassland in north Donegal

HNV landscape in West Cork in May

HNV landscape in West Cork in May

One of the few wet days

One of the few wet days

HNV landscape in Connemara

HNV landscape in Connemara

Species-rich grassland in Connemara

Species-rich grassland in Connemara