Measure 1 (M1) Production of species rich grassland M1 rewards farmers for their efforts in managing their species rich grassland to optimise its environmental condition. It features a unique, field-based scoring system which means that M1 payment levels depend on the quantity and quality of the eligible grazed habitat. Field based ‘condition scores’ (range 1-10) are compiled by the farm advisor (and verified by the Burren Life team) on the basis of 9 weighted criteria. These include grazing levels, feed site damage, scrub encroachment, presence of weeds, condition of water sources etc. The maximum payment rate is applied where a field scores 10/10.
Measure 2 (M2) Site enhancement works (including scrub removal) M2 co-funds (25%, 50% or 75%) a list of farmer-nominated tasks designed to improve the management on target areas. Each farmer is granted an annual M2 allowance based on the gross area of eligible Annex 1 habitat on the farm. Within this allowance the farmer can nominate a series of tasks, each one of which is individually priced (based on a costs ‘menu’ and bespoke scrub calculators) by the advisor. Each task is vetted by the Burren Life team in terms of environmental benefit and value for money before being approved for inclusion in the farm plan. Typical tasks include scrub removal, water provision, wall repair, habitat restoration and access provision. Farmers or contractors carry out agreed works once all permissions have been secured: typically, the standard of work tends to be excellent once farmers are convinced of the merit of undertaking the task (which, in this case, they propose). A simple ‘declaration’ form enables the farmer to declare any works not done by the end of the year, either by choice or circumstance.
The future of the Burren Life Programme has been clarified by Minister Simon Coveney (DAFM), who has indicated that the programme will continue and expand under the Locally-led Agri-Environment Schemes which will run until 2020.
Further information, updates and news on Burren Life Programme are available on the website http://www.burrenlife.com/.