Sustainable Uplands Agri-environment Scheme (SUAS)

Total budget: 1,950,000 Euro

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 date2022
Project statusOngoing
WebsiteWicklow Uplands Council

Objective of the project: 

The objective of the five-year, locally led pilot, is to develop practical solutions that will address the complex agricultural, environmental and socio-economic challenges associated with the land management of commonages and farms on the Wicklow/Dublin uplands.

The project is designed to get farmers back grazing and managing the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands in a sustainable manner which will improve habitat quality, biodiversity value and agricultural productivity.

The project will grow stakeholder ownership of the local challenges and provide a flexible supporting framework to assist them in developing solutions.  Objective of the project (in English): 

The objective of the five-year, locally led pilot, is to develop practical solutions that will address the complex agricultural, environmental and socio-economic challenges associated with the land management of commonages and farms on the Wicklow/Dublin uplands.

The project is designed to get farmers back grazing and managing the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands in a sustainable manner which will improve habitat quality, biodiversity value and agricultural productivity.

The project will grow stakeholder ownership of the local challenges and provide a flexible supporting framework to assist them in developing solutions.  Description of activities (native language): 

Establishment of 5 Commonage Groups (CGs) with their own constitutions. Each CG and 2 upland farmers will develop, implement and evaluate their commonage or upland farm management plans.  The plans will integrate activities aimed at improving upland habitats, protecting water quality & promoting more economically sustainable sheep farming.  Progress from baselines towards agreed targets for each variable will be assessed annually.  Farmer’s time inputs & direct costs associated with the implementation of agreed measures to address habitats will be recorded.  An auction-based payment scheme to incentivise farmers develop & evaluate specific solutions to challenges on their commonages/farms. Description of activities (in English): 

Establishment of 5 Commonage Groups (CGs) with their own constitutions. Each CG and 2 upland farmers will develop, implement and evaluate their commonage or upland farm management plans.  The plans will integrate activities aimed at improving upland habitats, protecting water quality & promoting more economically sustainable sheep farming.  Progress from baselines towards agreed targets for each variable will be assessed annually.  Farmer’s time inputs & direct costs associated with the implementation of agreed measures to address habitats will be recorded.  An auction-based payment scheme to incentivise farmers develop & evaluate specific solutions to challenges on their commonages/farms.

Description of the context of the project: 

The unenclosed land in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands is of high value for biodiversity and is of European conservation importance for habitats, species and birds. This is recognised by the designation of a substantial area of the uplands region as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA). Recent research carried out in the Wicklow/ Dublin uplands however has identified the poor-to-bad conservation status of the area and the uplands farmer’s attitudes, understanding and responses to it.

The SUAS pilot builds on the experiences of past and on-going projects including the Burren Programme, KerryLife and AranLife.  These have and continue to show the value of providing farmers with difficult management challenges, a vision of the desired result and allowing them flexibility in how they develop solutions.  The SUAS pilot will foster and grow the existing stakeholder ownership of the local challenges and will provide a flexible supporting framework to assist them in achieving solutions.  Additional information: 

The SUAS pilot project is expected to deliver a model, complete with commonage/upland management handbook, for a locally led, targeted, adaptive, outcome based Agri-Environmental Scheme (AES) that can be adopted/implemented across all Irish commonages and upland areas. 

https://ec.europa.eu/eip/agriculture/en/find-connect/projects/sustainable-uplands-agri-environment-scheme-suas

Download SUAS report here

SUAS Annual Report 2019

Commonages

Glasnamullen

Located on the northeast of the Wicklow Uplands, on the slopes of Djouce Mountain and White Hill and facing the well-known Great Sugarloaf.

Granamore

Located in the west of County Wicklow, 5km south of the Blessington Lakes.

Ballybeg

Located on the slopes of Black Hill in the south part of County Wicklow.

Carrigeenduff

Located in the middle of the Wicklow Uplands, this very large commonage (674 ha) includes lands close to Lough Dan and the Glenmacnass Waterfall and the summits of Mullaghcleevaun East Top and Duff Hill.

Glassavulaun

Located in the Dublin Uplands, rising to the summits of Seefingan and Corrig Mountain.

Corrasillagh

Located in the middle of the Wicklow Uplands,  the commonage extends from the Glenmalure Valley rising to the shoulder of Lugnaquilla and includes the ridges and summit of Cloghernagh.

Non-Commonage Upland Areas

Powerscourt Paddock

Located in the northeast of County Wicklow, to the south of the famous Powerscourt Estate.

Kilmashogue

Located on the slopes of south County Dublin’s Two Rock Mountain (also known as the Fairy Castle).

Ballynultagh

Located in the Wicklow Uplands, Ballynultagh adjoins the commonage of Carrigeenduff and extends to summits such as Mullaghcleevaun East Top.

Links to baseline / management and habitat reports on each SUAS site are downloadable here:

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