New project rewards farming with nature in east Cork

10 May 2018

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 the 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.

The Project will run for five 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.

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.

The BRIDE Project: Farming with Nature was designed by two farmers from east Cork, Paul Moore and Donal Sheehan, along with an ecologist, Tony Nagle. Additional support was given by Teagasc and Birdwatch Ireland and industry partners Glanbia, Kepak, Cork Co. Council, The National Biodiversity Data Centre and Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme.

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