LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature
LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature is a 9-year project Coordinated by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage aimed at conservation and management of Ireland’s Natura 2000 network, with a special focus on blanket bog. The project covers over 250,000ha of Natura 2000 lands, comprising primarily blanket bogs and associated peatland habitats. In many cases lands contiguous with, but outside of, the Natura 2000 network provide an essential function in supporting the achievement of the Conservation Objectives of the sites themselves.
The primary target of LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature is delivery of the Prioritised Action Framework (PAF) for Ireland in general, and blanket bog specifically. The project aims to deliver benefits to associated habitats, species and local communities, in addition to being significantly climate and water quality related. Among other activities, the project is demonstrating the Results-Based Payment Scheme (RBPS) approach and developing its roll-out to deliver conservation actions on the ground. The RBPS principles that have been developed and put into practice in similar programmes (e.g. Burren Programme; Pearl Mussel Project EIP) are being used and adapted to work with and for the farmers of the northwest of Ireland.
Another key remit of LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature is the mobilisation of complementary funding for associated activities to conserve and restore peatlands. As part of this remit, LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature are a partner on a new Horizon 2020 funded project, WaterLANDS. WaterLANDS is a five-year project (2021-2026; budget €23.6m) which aims to enable an upscaling of the restoration of wetlands across Europe. LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature are responsible for one of the six WaterLANDS project ‘Action Sites’ at Cuilcagh-Anierin SAC.
In LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature the work on developing RBPS was brought forward to 2021/2022 (from original proposal to commence in 2024) to ensure full preparation for the new CAP in 2023, with the support and advice of the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM), who are an Associated Beneficiary on the LIFE project. It is expected that from 2023 the RBPS model will be delivered for farmers in the project areas via the CAP Agri-Environment, Climate Measures (AECMs), with full implementation due in January 2023.
The RBPS model used in Wild Atlantic Nature is a similar model that we are proposing to implement in the WaterLANDS project at Cuilcagh-Anierin SAC in order to align policy and demonstrate best practice in wetland restoration. We envisage that this site would be used as a demonstrator for RBPS roll-out and associated restoration/conservation work. It is expected that testing and demonstrating an RBPS as proposed in WaterLANDS will deliver benefits for science, policy and practice and will generate significant new learning and knowledge, as well as providing concrete recommendations for wetland restoration, through CAP and otherwise. Indeed the European Court of Auditors call for member states to go the direction of using the RBPS approach to achieve higher environmental ambition.
The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage currently seek a contractor to coordinate a RBPS/restoration actions hybrid pilot as part of the WaterLANDS ‘Action Site’ at Cuilcagh-Anierin SAC. This role involves delivering the RBPS pilot in 2022, coordinating conservation and restoration actions from 2023-2026, monitoring and evaluating the efficacy of actions and the potential for upscaling, liaising with participant farmers, farm advisors and local community groups and working closely with the WaterLANDS project team to deliver on the project objectives across several work packages. Some communication, dissemination and exploitation activities also form part of the role. WaterLANDS is funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under Grant Agreement number 101036484.
Payments will depend on satisfactory progress with the following deliverables to the Wild Atlantic Nature project manager or other appointed team member:
Regular short update reports to the project team;
Regular update meeting with the Wild Atlantic Nature project manager;
Successful recruitment of RBPS participants (approx. 200 farmers);
Contributions, where required, to Work Packages 2 (Engaging Communities), 3 (Aligning Governance, and 4 (Mobilising Finance) of WaterLANDS as RBPS progresses
Integrate co-created best-practice (WP5) to optimise application of measures.
Successful undertaking of RBPS advisor and farmer training;
Coordination of RBPS surveying and monitoring programme;
Verification of RBPS farm scores;
Administration of farmer payments;
Administration of supporting actions and evaluation of their efficacy;
Liaison with farmers and agricultural advisors;
Education and liaison with local communities;
Data collection, analysis and reporting documents as required by WaterLANDS Task and Work Package Leads;
Feeding into Key Performance Indicators for Wild Atlantic Nature LIFE IP complementary funding projects;
Monitoring report on efficacy of RBPS & supporting actions;
Preparation of draft guidance documents for partners, farmers and advisors on:
o Overall RBPS project
o Habitat scoring
o Supporting actions
o Finance opportunities and governance arrangements
o Engaging communities
Milestones: RBPS delivered for approx. 200 farmers (December 2022)