LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature: healthy peatlands for our future

Mar 11, 2024 | Green Architecture

LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature is an innovative and ambitious project aimed at restoration and conservation of Ireland’s Natura 2000 network of blanket bog habitats. Funded under the EU LIFE programme for nine years (2021-2029), LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature works with farmers, landowners, local communities, state agencies and others across a broad range of actions spanning sectors including farming, forestry, tourism, community development, education and research 

Developing a landscape scale restoration programme 

The Wild Atlantic Nature pilot Results Based agri-environmental Payment Scheme (RBPS) ran for 2 years and ended in December 2022. The pilot scheme gave 820 farmers in eight of the project’s target SACs the opportunity to participate in a RBPS scheme that had been specifically developed for upland farms. Participating farmers received a total of €3m for ecosystem services. The lessons gained from the Wild Atlantic Nature RBPS scheme has helped to inform the development of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM)’s results-based Agri-Climate Rural Environment Cooperation Project approach (ACRES CP). With the primary land use for Ireland’s peatlands being agriculture, the ACRES CP scheme currently provides the main implementation mechanism for restoration actions through the farming community. However, it is foreseen that this funding will only facilitate small scale restoration, and many damaged peatland sites require a more landscape scale approach.  

Reprofiling old turf banks as part of a restoration training programme

With this in mind, LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature is currently developing a pilot land restoration programme intended for larger landscape scale restoration sites that cannot be addressed under the ACRES CP funding streams, as well as for sites outside of the ACRES CP programme. Project staff will be working closely with farmers, landowners and ACRES CP teams to identify potential restoration sites, developing bespoke restoration action plans and assisting in the implementation of restoration measures. Some of this work will be delivered through a €15m cross-border Shared Island Fund peatland restoration project that runs from 2023 to 2025. The aim of this project is to develop capacity and expertise, share knowledge and deliver peatland restoration in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. In this case, LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature is coordinating the funding via the National Parks and Wildlife Service in collaboration with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and NatureScot. 

Natura Communities 

Natura Communities, a new initiative from LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature and supported by National Parks and Wildlife Service, aims to connect local communities with Natura 2000 sites in their area. The vision is to build capacity in communities to enable the delivery of locally led nature conservation and ecosystem restoration projects, where local communities have the knowledge and skills in all levels of conservation project management. By directly investing in communities, there is the potential to support long-term conservation; whereby experience and expertise is developed and retained by a competent and dedicated workforce, living and working in their local area. Building capacity to engage in this type of work has two broad benefits; it will deliver social benefits for people in these areas (e.g. through creating opportunities for local employment) whilst improving the ecological quality of habitats. Three groups are up and running in North Connemara/South Mayo, North Mayo and West Donegal.

Shared Island Fund peatland restoration training delivered by the LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature team

More information is available and on the Natura Communities website.

Source of text and images: LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature

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