A GOVERNMENT minister has endorsed the concept of farmers in the Burren being paid to create pristine conditions to allow rare and wild flowers grow in the area.
Over the past four years, 160 Burren farmers have shared a €4m windfall from the State for the upkeep of their land to allow the world-renowned Burren flowers flourish.
At a ceremony at the Michael Cusack centre in Carron in the Burren yesterday, Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Minister Jimmy Deenihan warned if the funding didn't continue for the farmers, the progress witnessed in the Burren environment over the past number of years mightbe reversed.
"It is a very high priority for me that the funding continues as it is critical for the Burren," he said.
Mr Deenihan made his comments yesterday after accepting Ireland's first-ever European Diploma of Protected Areas Award from the Council of Europe for the sustainable management of the Burren.
Mr Deenihan said that the Burren winning the award "is a first for Ireland".
"It is a great day for Ireland and the Burren and demonstrates the critical role the farmer has in maintaining the landscape here," he said.