A PLEDGE to take all possible steps to continue funding a conservation project in the Burren, Co Clare, has been made by the Minister for the Environment.
BurrenLIFE is described as the first major farming conservation project in Ireland. Its funding of €2.23 million, three-quarters of which came from the EU, is due to finish in September.
At the official launch yesterday of a DVD on the project which has been running for five years, John Gormley said that in the present economic climate, finding funding was difficult. “My department will be taking all steps to find a way forward and will talk to all the parties involved,” he said.
Twenty farms are involved in the project which includes active management of priority habitats, including orchid-rich grassland, limestone pavement and turloughs.
“The unique landscape of the Burren is not an entirely spontaneous, natural phenomenon, but is the result of farming practices over thousands of years.”
Mr Gormley said the project had been a highly successful partnership between the European Commission, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Teagasc, the Burren Irish Farmers’ Association and local farmers.
It had improved access for cattle, enhancing livestock-management facilities and had helped to repair dry stone walls and had developed a special feed formula for cattle. Project manager Dr Brendan Dunford said he wanted to see it continue and for the hundreds of other farmers who managed the Burren landscape to come into the system.
Ruairí Ó Conchúir, finance officer with the project, said the DVD was the first Irish-made farming for conservation DVD as a resource and training tool for farmers, planners and policy makers.
All the speakers at the launch said the project had been successful because of the co-operation of the farmers who worked as equals. The project had been developing a new model for sustainable agriculture in the Burren to conserve designated habitats.