Performance-related payments for farmland wildlife
A new project in the Bride Valley in East Cork will reward participating farmers for wildlife on their farms. The ‘Biodiversity Regeneration In a Dairying Environment’ (BRIDE) project will provide participating farmers with farm habitat plans that identify the most appropriate and effective wildlife management options for individual farms. Farmers will be paid for their conservation actions.
The BRIDE project was one of eleven projects selected from over 100 applications by Department of Agriculture Food, and the Marine, and the European Union, under the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) funding programme. An innovative element of the project is its higher payments for higher wildlife gains (a results-based approach). Thus, the more flowers in a hedgerow or field margin, the higher the payment. The greater reward for a higher quality product is very familiar to farmers, and the BRIDE project applies this principle to the management of wildlife habitats. This also means that farmers will be paid for the ongoing management of selected existing wildlife habitats, which is an important feature of the project.
Donal Sheehan, the BRIDE Project Manager (who lives in Castlelyons) places great emphasis on the fact that “the BRIDE Project has been designed by local farmers for local farmers and this is one of the most important distinguishing features of the project.” The BRIDE project will be open to farmers within the Bride river catchment, from Glenville to Tallow. A public information meeting will be held in Corrin Event Centre at 8pm on Wednesday May 2nd.
The Project will run for 5 years and is designed to increase and maintain biodiversity on intensively managed farms in the area through simple, innovative measures. The effects on wildlife will be monitored through the project, which aims to create suitable habitats for local important populations of wildlife include skylarks, yellowhammers, bumblebees and frogs and newts. The BRIDE Project differs from traditional agri-environment schemes through its use of a results-based payment system i.e. more farmland habitats will result in higher financial payments.
An ecologist will work with participating farmers to develop a farm plan and advise on how to maximise the wildlife on their farm, and will focus on important habitats such as hedgerows, bogs, woodland, ponds, derelict buildings etc. Wild birds and other animals don’t respect farm boundaries, and the BRIDE Project is also designed to work at a landscape scale. It will involve several clusters of neighbouring farms to collectively enhance biodiversity on a much larger scale than would be possible on an individual farm basis. Farmers will improve the environment for the wider community and local participation will help forge a strong identity that values local wildlife and the ‘farming with nature’ concept.