The majority of work undertaken by the AranLIFE project team in the final months of 2014 involved working in consultation with each participant farmer in order to gather data for each individual participant farmer’s Farm Management Plan (FMP).
On 15 and 16 December 2014 meetings were held on each of the three Aran Islands and all the participant farmers were invited to attend. At the meetings the FMP was explained and the FMPs and all related documentation were handed out to each individual participant farmer. Farmers were given an opportunity to analyse the FMPs and agree works to be undertaken in 2015 and once agreed and signed by participant farmer and AranLIFE project team, agreed works can be commenced by participant farmer.
Farmers have been encouraged to commence agreed scrub clearance immediately and AranLIFE will be holding demonstration days on scrub clearance by the end of January, dates to be confirmed.
Reasons why this action is necessary:
A whole farm management and planning approach is required as the management of designated Natura 2000 sites is dependent on the availability of conservation support areas on other parts of the farm. These conservation support areas are not necessarily within Natura sites but their availability is essential to the appropriate management of Natura 2000 sites. For example, these areas can be used for grazing during sensitive periods when grazing is not recommended or needs to be reduced on Natura sites in order to achieve conservation objectives. Given the high proportion of the island farms that are designated, the proper sustainable agricultural management of these “conservation support” areas is essential if targeted management to achieve conservation objectives is to be delivered and achieved. This action will ensure that the farmer has input into the farm planning process, is fully aware of the plan requirements and is committed to the delivery of project actions. An annual review process for these plans will also facilitate the demonstration of an adaptive management process to the delivery of conservation objectives on Natura 2000 sites.