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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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€5m pilot FES: Habitat surveys on 6,500 farms

The DAFM has launched a “major” investment of €5 million in a pilot Farm Environmental Study (FES).

Its pilot stage will focus on the roll-out of farm-level habitat surveys on approximately 6,500 farms.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the pilot will:

  • Establish a framework to generate a database of baseline habitat and biodiversity data at farm level;
  • Provide the scope for an inventory of farm habitats and biodiversity present;
  • Also, provide a baseline for future targeting of agri-environmental schemes and measures.

The pilot FES measure will provide the farmer with information on the biodiversity and environmental assets on his/her own farm.


According to the DAFM, this new level of biodiversity data will provide farmers with “greater” awareness of the biodiversity potential on their lands.

Furthermore, it will help them tailor their management practices to help farm “with nature in mind”.

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Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, and the Minister for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett, launched the FES.

In a statement on Monday, December 13th, 2021, Minister McConalogue said:

“I am excited about bringing forward this new pilot FES. I believe it is the launchpad for a whole new and untapped potential for Irish agriculture.”

“Having a baseline knowledge of the biodiversity resources we have on our farms is essential going forward.”

“To tackle the challenges of the future, we first must know the potential of the present. The FES is central to this new era we are facing into.”

He said that since the initial announcement of this pilot project roll-out, his department has contracted the operation and delivery of this important environmental initiative.

The Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) will coordinate the roll-out of this survey effort and provide ecological perspectives.

“I look forward to seeing the final result of what FES will deliver for our farms and farmers.”


Minister Pippa Hackett also welcomed the pilot measure and stated, “We are living in the middle of a biodiversity crisis.”

“With agriculture being the largest land use in our country, establishing a database of the biodiversity features and habitats present at the farm level must be a priority.”

She said the delivery of FES will allow “great” strides to be made in tailoring farm-specific management practices with benefits to farmers and the environment.

“Farmers are the caretakers of biodiversity in agriculture. This farm-scale approach will educate and empower farmers, building on their knowledge of their own land to maximise delivery of environmental and economic benefits at a national scale.”

President of ACA, Tom Canning said the pilot study would be “valuable” for the future of the agricultural sector.

“ACA are confident that there are significant environmental assets currently in Ireland, and once recorded, will greatly assist towards our commitments to both our National and EU responsibilities under climate change and related policies.”

The FES advisor training module will commence shortly. The measure will open to farmers in quarter 1, 2022.

According to the DAFM, farm surveys will be carried out over the spring and summer of 2022.

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