Farm Ireland

Thursday 18 January 2018

Burren Life project up for top EU nature award

The Burren Live Project works with over 500 farmers to encourage sustainable agriculture including practices such as winter grazing on limestone grasslands and heaths
The Burren Live Project works with over 500 farmers to encourage sustainable agriculture including practices such as winter grazing on limestone grasslands and heaths
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

More than two decades after beginning its work on the distinctive limestone grassland habitat in Co Clare, the Burren Life Project has been short-listed for a prestigious EU award.

The programme, which successfully developed an evidence-based approach to managing species-rich grasslands, habitats and water quality on livestock systems in the region, is the only Irish project nominated for the EU 'Best Nature' Green Award.

The award recognises the most outstanding nature, conservation and climate action projects since the EU Life fund was established 25 years ago.

Brendan Dunford, founder and manager of the Burren Life Project and implementation programme said the nomination has brought great excitement to farm families in the area.

Although just 20 farmers were initially involved in the research, now there are upwards of 500 farmers participating in the project, which extends over roughly 720km of north Co Clare and south Co Galway.

"It's amazing. For a small project where there wasn't that many people involved at the beginning, and the budget was very limited, it has had a huge impact not only in the Burren but nationally and now internationally.

"It started in 2005 but for 10 years before that we were doing research with local farmers on the problems they faced so our research dates back to the late '90s. They are incredibly proud of what they have achieved so this nomination is very special," he said.

Farming is integral to the character and composition of the Burren.

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The ancient practice of winter grazing on the rough limestone grasslands and heaths is central to the health and diversity of the many species and habitats therein.

Today, hundreds of farm families continue to live and farm in the Burren despite the challenges posed by the rough, unforgiving terrain. These farm families produce excellent livestock as did their forefathers, and in many cases this is achieved using the same ancient pastoral traditions.

"The project is very farmer centric, the local farming community took real ownership of it so to be recognised is a credit to them" he said.

Now there is a Facebook vote to select the top projects in each category - Nature, Environment and Climate.

"We want the public to get behind us and vote. We attract well over a million tourists every year, we always aim very high and we want to be number one," he said.

Votes can be logged on the LIFE programme Facebook page but hurry, the deadline for submissions is midnight tomorrow.

* The Blue Jean Country Queen is set to celebrate it’s 30th anniversary in style this June bank holiday weekend.

The festival, organised by Meath Macra na Feirme, will see 30 young women vying to claim the glamorous crown in the town of Athboy.

The hugely anticipated event,  sponsored by Athboy Credit Union, is considered to be a social staple of the Macra calendar and also offers a colourful range of family friendly events and live musical performances throughout the weekend.

The talented and sparkling queens, representing vibrant clubs from every corner of the country, will arrive at the Causey Farm, located between Kells and Athboy on Friday June 2 for a team building experience before the official opening of the festival.

On Saturday, the annual street carnival and craft fair will kick off on main street, Athboy, with ’The Great Blue Jean Bake Off’.

The extravagant gala banquet ceremony will take place in the Darnley Lodge Hotel on Sunday.

The winner will receive €1,000 in prize money, while the runner up will be awarded €500 from Forefront Nutrition, while third place will receive €300 from M&G Groundworks.

Indo Farming