Caomhnú Árann Managing the habitats of the Aran Islands to maximise their agricultural & ecological output

Total budget: 1,450,000

Main funding sourceRural development 2014-2020 for Operational Groups (in the sense of Art 56 of Reg.1305/2013)
Project typeOperational group
Starting date2018
End date2021

The project aims to protect and restore priority habitat at lower costs and greater efficiency by exploring innovative:

methods of habitat improvement and conservation,

investigating alternative markets to minimise undergrazing, land abandonment and loss of traditional management systems and knowledge.

The project will examine:

(i) technologies that improve habitat assessment whilst reducing labour and administrative costs;

(ii) the potential of harvesting and marketing seed from high quality species rich grasslands;  

(iii) phosphorus delivery to livestock which minimises effects on species richness and diversity &

(iv) enhancing engagement of all stakeholders involved.

Contact person: Caomhnú Árann

Address: Teach Ceann Tuí 2, Inis Oírr, Oileáin Árann, Co na Gaillimhe

Phone: 00353 83 1550855

The Aran Islands contain some of Ireland’s and Europe’s scarcest and most valuable limestone pavement, Orchid rich calcareous grasslands and Machair habitat. However, due to relatively low, and narrowly based, farm incomes, this high priority habitat is not receiving adequate maintenance.  Traditional farming practices and knowledge are being lost and non-economic units are being abandoned, leading to overgrowth and reversion to scrub and consequent loss of species diversity.

The causes of low farm unit income include:

small and fragmented holdings,

small, stone walled fields and narrow lanes which increase farming labour intensity;

low productivity land,

high labour intensity of optimal conservation methods.

Improving income on farms and thereby reducing habitat deterioration will require specific targeted measures.  Targeted agri-environment programmes can have associated high administration costs and the potential of alternative food markets can be limited. Innovative solutions are required to address these issues which the Caomhnú Árann Project will test.

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