Burrenbeo Trust and IT Sligo will play a central role in the establishment of a new knowledge and best practice network which aims to boost innovation in agricultural areas across Europe renowned for their outstanding natural and cultural values.
Burrenbeo will join forces with the Centre for Environmental Research, Innovation and Sustainability (CERIS) at IT Sligoto launch an international project dealing with High Nature Value Farming, known as HNV Link.
High nature value farmland defines areas across the continent where agricultural activities support and are associated with exceptionally high biodiversity. This new project has financial backing from the prestigious Horizon 2020 EU Research Programme to the tune of €2.2 million.
The project will operate across 11 countries: Ireland, the UK, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, France, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Finland and Sweden.
The goal is to increase the socio-economic viability and environmental efficiency of these areas, some of which are currently threatened by marginalisation. More than 70% of habitats of European importance in Ireland are impacted by agricultural practices with many of the negative effects relating to the lack of management or land use change.
“Marrying science with local innovations and skill is vital in the quest to safeguard the future of these unique areas across Europe,” explains Dr James Moran, the project leader at IT Sligo.
“Their uniqueness demands a holistic approach to their management and to take into account local environment and socio-economic conditions.”
The project will focus on collecting, developing, transferring and sharing innovative solutions of all kinds for supporting high nature value areas.
The Burren, recognised internationally as one of the flagship farming landscapes, will be one of ten European learning areas for the project.
“The Burren is the ideal learning area for this project given its high heritage value, its long history of farming, and the many pioneering conservation initiatives introduced here,” says Dr Brendan Dunford, Secretary of the Burrenbeo Trust.
While the Burren will be the flagship ‘learning area’ in Ireland for this new project, the goal is to expand the network across the country as the high nature value characteristics apply to almost one third of Ireland’s agricultural landbase.