- ▶ SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL PLAN FOR THE MACGILLYCUDDY REEKS
- ▶ The Irish Breeding Curlew EIP
- ▶ CAOMHNÚ ÁRANN - MANAGING THE HABITATS OF THE ARAN ISLANDS
- ▶ PROTECTING FARMLAND POLLINATORS
- ▶ ALLOW PROJECT – DUHALLOW FARMING FOR BLUE DOT CATCHMENTS
- ▶ THE BRIDE PROJECT
- ▶ BLACKSTAIRS FARMING FUTURES
- ▶ PEARL MUSSEL PROJECT
- ▶ HEN HARRIER PROJECT
- ▶ THE BURREN PROGRAMME
- ▶ RBAPS PROJECT
The Bride (Biodiversity Regeneration In a Dairying Environment) project aims to design and implement a cost effective, results-based approach to conserve, enhance and restore habitats in lowland intensive farmland. It is also hoped to improve national awareness of the options that are available to maintain and enhance farmland wildlife on intensively managed farmland without unduly affecting agricultural production. Intensively managed farmland throughout Ireland has had relatively low participation rates in agri-environment schemes (and associated wildlife options). Nevertheless, it is this farmland that is most frequently represented in Quality Assurance and Sustainability Schemes and is most likely to require a customised plan to maintain and enhance farmland wildlife habitats.
Location of the schemeone region
River Bride valley area of East Cork and West Waterford.
The BRIDE Project is an innovative agri-environment project based in the River Bride catchment of North-east County Cork and west Waterford, Ireland.
Duration of the schemeSince: 2018
Objective(s) of the scheme / project
- Landscape amenities, including recreation, tourism
- Erosion control
- Water quality
The main objective of the project is to improve biodiversity in the target area. The area is a predominantly dairy region but it also supports many beef and suckler farmers along with tillage sheep and a strong equine sector. While biodiversity improvement will be the main focus, there will also be obvious spin-offs for other environmental objectives. Planting more trees and hedgerows will improve carbon sequestration, while increasing the width of riparian buffer strips will reduce bank and soil erosion and also prevent nutrient run-off. Tree lines are incorporated into each farm plan thus enhancing the natural landscape while the creation of ponds will also visually transform the appearance of farms.
Which habitats or species are in the focus of the scheme / project?
- Habitats (incl. habitats of Fauna-Flora-Habitat-Directive (FFH-D.))
- Species (incl. species of FFH-D. and Birds Directive (BD))
- Landscape elements
The project is all about farmland habitats, their creation, if not already present and their enhancement if they are of poor quality. While every farm has habitats, it is the more important ones that the project tries to safeguard. With the increase in intensification over the last number of years, land has become the limiting factor and habitat removal to increase the food production area of the farm has caused environmental problems. Retaining wetlands, semi-natural and species-rich grassland is one of the core objectives as these are the habitats where much farmland biodiversity is lost. The ground-nesting species such as skylark, meadow pipit, hen harrier, snipe, lapwing etc. are all in decline in this area and reversing this trend will be a key and very challenging goal.
The Biodiversity Managed Area (BMA) comprises all the habitats that are present on a farm. These include hedgerows, bogs, drains, quarries/glens, field margins, derelict buildings, historic monuments, wetland, semi-natural grassland, treelines, woodland, streams/rivers, ponds, scrub, riparian buffer strips and winter stubble. Any farm with a species from the BRIDE Project Target Species or Habitat List will get higher entry priority. The Project Ecologist will confirm the criteria. These include breeding confirmation of any of the bird, mammal or amphibian species listed. The presence of any of the Target Habitats listed including a roost site for any of the bat species will also receive a higher priority.
Which indicators are used?
- Habitats (incl FFH and BD)
- Species (incl FFH and BD)
- Landscape Elements
- Physical structures (e.g. dead wood, presence of brushwood, hollow trees, tall grass)
The project focuses more on the habitats and securing these first and foremost. The ground-nesting farmland bird species will be key indicators if measures are successful. The time lag may not allow this to happen as some of these species are now scarce breeders in the Bride valley and it may take longer than the Project duration to see improvements. Nevertheless, concentrating on habitat quality improvement will be an important first step. Once the habitat is there, the species will return.
When carrying out Results-based Payment scoring of habitats, most of the score is weighted towards physical area rather than ecological quality. This is because of the need to secure a habitat firstly and also to encourage the farmer to increase the habitat area. Lesser scores are given for ecological quality. This can be reversed in years to come when the area is secured and more quality needs to be added to the habitat.
Pesticides in any natural habitat such as hedgerows, riparian margins or field margins will automatically reduce the payment for that habitat. All habitats will have score sheets with positive and negative indicators and these score sheets will be used to determine the RBP.
Design of scheme / project
- Hybrid result based payment with complementary management based payments
The Project aims to design and implement a results-based approach to conserve, enhance and restore habitats in lowland intensive farmland. With the BRIDE Project a farmer will receive a one off capital payment for work carried out e.g., fencing a hedgerow or excavating a pond, but annual payments will be made on the biodiversity quality of the habitats on the farm. All the habitats included in the BMA will be scored and a quality mark given accordingly. An innovative feature of the BRIDE Project is the landscape-scale approach to biodiversity whereby groups of farmers in a given area will be encouraged to implement a range of habitat improvement measures. This combined, community-based effort is an entirely new approach to environmental management compared to the randomised process of selection in previous agri-environment schemes. Another innovative aspect is the use of a results-based payment scheme where farmers will have each habitat on their farm assessed and scored, with higher quality habitats gaining higher payments. The principle aim of the project is that all participating farmers will have at least 10% BMA by the end of the 5 years duration. A Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) is drawn up by the Project Ecologist for each individual farm. Each farm will be walked and all habitats noted. Following a consultation with the farmer and taking into account the farm enterprise, a specific plan for the farm will then be drawn up. This will then be explained to the farmer and if agreed the plan will then be implemented.
By which fund(s) is the scheme / project implemented?
- Other measures of Rural Development
EIP operational group
The project is co-funded by the European Union and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine through the RDP European Innovation Partnership (EIP) Operational Group initiative
How are the incentives (payment levels) calculated?
They are based on a minimum figure that the Project team deem attractive enough that the farmer will feel it worthwhile to participate
Calculations are based on the costs and income foregone of the farming practices which are generally required to achieve the desired result.
Is there a top up in case of reaching the goals?
No top-ups but payments increase if a farmer increases the Biodiversity Management Area (BMA%) from under 10% to over 10%. There are target species payments whereby an extra payment is given if a species from the BRIDE Target Species List breeds on the farm.
How many hectares are in the scheme?
- 1.001 – 2.000
How many farmers take part in the scheme?
- Less than 50
How are participating farmers supervised/advised?
- Advisors visits (obligatory)
- Advice by telephone
- Information documents (pamphlets, reports, etc.)
- Information meetings/workshops (voluntary)
Phone support is available all the times from the Project team. The ecologist will call at least once per year and also as part of the RBP assessment. A minimum of 2 farm walks per year are held. No compulsory training is required by the farmers but attendance at farm walks and information meetings is recorded.
Are there any evaluation results?
- In preparation
RBP’s have just commenced (July 2020) and this will form the basis of an initial habitat assessment on each farm. It is hoped that this habitat quality assessment score for each farm will increase year on year until the final year (2023).
Castlelyons Co. Cork