The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has released a map, identifying locations where farmers can avail of higher payments under the new CAP’s Agri-Environment Climate Measure (AECM).
The new AECM is the “flagship” €1.5b environmental scheme, which according to the DAFM, “all farmers will have access to”.
However, as part of this scheme, the DAFM has outlined eight areas as having “particular environmental characteristics”.
These ‘Priority Co-operation Zones’ include:
- Areas dominated by semi-natural vegetation (both privately owned and in commonage);
- Natura 2000 lands and priority water catchments, etc.
According to the DAFM, these areas are:
- Of high nature value;
- Hold significant carbon stores;
- Are home to some of the most pristine waters in the country.
The DAFM carried out further refinement by applying nature and water priorities to the zones.
- Nature priorities:
- Natura 2000 sites,
- Natural Heritage areas (NHAs),
- All offshore islands,
- The Burren region,
- Breeding Hen Harrier regions,
- Curlew breeding areas,
- Areas covered by the 2 LIFE projects: Wild Atlantic Nature and Corncrake LIFE and River Sub Basins known to support large areas of Annex 1 grasslands;
- Water priorities: River Sub Basins containing waterbodies with High-status water objectives.
Payments of up to €10,500
Farmers in those areas will engage in the new AECM through the co-operation project teams.
These farmers, in turn, will benefit from higher payment rates. They can avail of a maximum payment of €10,500/year, should they participate and undertake “the most environmentally ambitious actions”.
Farmers participating in the co-operation approach will be supported by a local co-operation Project (CP) Team, who will assist with the implementation of the scheme at local level.
Minister Charlie McConalogue has announced the launch of a tender process for the management of co-operation projects as part of the AECM.
According to the DAFM, the services it seeks will support the establishment and management of co-operation projects across eight regions in Ireland.
The DAFM added that work is ongoing in preparing a system to enable a farmer to identify whether their farm falls within the Co-Operation Zone.
A spokesperson said: “It is intended that a farmer and/or their advisor would be able to log on to a departmental portal for the AECM scheme, enter identifying information for example a herd number, and would then be directed to either the co-operation measure or the general measure of the AECM.”
“This will be clearly communicated to all farmers, and their advisors will in advance of the opening of the scheme.
CP teams’ roles
The spokesperson added that the CP teams will:
- Facilitate co-operation between local specialist teams, farmers, advisors, state agencies and government departments;
- Co-create and implement a range of solutions that improve the local environment and the viability of these high priority rural areas;
- Provide training and support to farmers and their advisors.
CP teams will be “multi-disciplinary” with expertise from ecologists, hydrologists, ornithologists and project managers.