Friday, 18 October 2013

AranLIFE Project: Frequently Asked Questions

ARAN LIFE PROJECT: Frequently Asked Questions (from the webpage of DAHG)

Q. What is the AranLIFE project?
The AranLIFE project is a demonstration project that will operate on the three Aran Islands over a 4 year period from 2014-2017. It will seek to develop and demonstrate the best conservation management practices of local farmers on the designated Natura 2000 sites of the three islands (protected habitats for flora and fauna of European importance). The project will focus on farming activities on the islands within the Natura designated sites. It will harness local farming knowledge and experience with the scientific expertise of other project partners to overcome some of the challenges of island farming and to improve the conservation status of the designated sites. Information on the Natura designated sites of the three islands can be found at:

Q. What exactly will the Aran LIFE project do?
A Project Team which will be established and based on the Aran Islands over the 4 year duration of the project will work with members of the farming communities on each of the islands over that period on a wide range of actions including:
  • the development of farm management plans
  • profiling the grazing potential
  • improving access to land parcels by clearing boreens
  • scrub and bracken control within fields
  • improving access to water for stock
  • nutrient management of grasslands
  • monitoring the impact of these actions ecologically, agriculturally and socioeconomically.

Other actions will focus on education and public awareness and will include:

  • the development of a website and media campaign
  • public information meetings
  • educational activities focusing on schools.

Q. How many farmers will be involved?
Given the typical size of Aran Island farms, it is estimated that this will require the direct involvement of approximately 70 farms in total across the three islands. However, many more farmers and the wider community can become involved by way of the project’s demonstration days and other activities over the course of the project.

The project has committed to covering up to 1,011 hectares of certain priority types of farmland habitats (limestone pavement, orchid rich calcareous grasslands and machair).

Q. What issues will the Aran LIFE project not address?

The Aran LIFE project is not an agri-environment scheme nor is it a replacement or follow-on from either REPS or AEOS. (REPS= Rural Environment Protection Scheme; AEOS = Agri-Environment Options Scheme). The project actions will only be implemented within the designated Natura 2000 sites. This is a condition of the LIFE+ funding. For this reason, rye plots and other actions concerning tillage are excluded from the project. Other issues such as planning, aquaculture or coastal erosion do not fall within the scope of the project either.

Given that LIFE+ funding can only be used for activities that cannot be funded under any other arrangements and that funding for stone-wall building/maintenance is available under REPS/AEOS, such works therefore are not eligible under the project. Aran LIFE is essentially a demonstration project which may help to inform future policy and practice in relation to agri-environment schemes insofar as the islands are concerned.

Q. Who will run the Aran LIFE project?

The day-to-day operation of the project will be run by a project team, who will be based on the Aran Islands. They will report to a project steering committee which will operate under The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and will oversee, guide and support the work of the project team.

Q. Who will be on the Project Steering Committee?

The Steering Committee will comprise representatives from:
  • The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
  • the farming community from each of the three Aran Islands.
  • The farming advisory organisation TEAGASC
  • Institute of Technology Sligo

Q. What is the budget for the AranLIFE Project and who is funding it?

The total budget for the AranLIFE project is €2,597,685. A total of 75% of the project funding will come from the European Union’s LIFE+ funding programme for the environment while the remaining 25% of the funding is being contributed by the following partners:

  • The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
  • Teagasc
  • The Heritage Council
  • The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
  • Galway County Council
  • Fáilte Ireland.

Q. Why is the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the lead partner or co-ordinating beneficiary for the project?

Given the nature of the project and that it represents a potential benefit to the islands’ community and its natural environment alike, the project naturally aligns with DAHG’s core mission in terms not only of island development but also in terms of the natural heritage.

Q. Will the Aran LIFE project team operate in Irish, English or both?

It is anticipated that the project team as a group will be able to provide a service through both Irish and English.

Q. How will it be decided which farmers’ farms can or will participate or be included in the project?

Once the project team has been appointed they will invite farmers from each of the islands to express their interest in volunteering to participate in the project. Public meetings will be organised in order to publicise and explain the project. Once farmers have been selected for the project, they will be required to enter into a formal agreement and commit to implementing agreed actions on their farm over the course of the project’s duration. Suitability for participation will be determined using criteria that will be developed by the project team in consultation with the steering committee.

Q. What will be the criteria for the farms that will become part of the project?

Criteria will be based around the core objectives of including 1,011 hectares of certain priority types of farmland habitats (limestone pavement, orchid rich calcareous grasslands and machair) under the project. Farmer’s commitment, the suitability of the farm as a demonstration site, farm size and its ecological significance as well as the condition of the habitats on the farm will also play a key part in farm selection. These general criteria will be further refined by the project team on appointment in consultation with the steering committee.

Q. Will the number of participating farmers be split evenly between the three islands?

Not necessarily. The application of the final agreed criteria will, for the large part inform the decision as to which farmers are invited to participate.

Q. Do you have to leave REPS or AEOS to be involved in the AranLIFE project?

No. Any farmer’s involvement with the AranLIFE Project will be totally separate from their REPS or AEOS contract.

Q. Will I get paid to be a participating farmer?

Participating farmers will qualify for payment in respect of the successful completion of agreed works undertaken as part of the project. Payment will vary in accordance with each farm’s agreed management plan and will be determined using trial works that have been undertaken with some of the island farmers in recent years. Once a participating farmer has an agreed management plan in place, they will know exactly how much they will be entitled to on successful completion of the agreed works.

For further information contact:

Seán Ó Grifín

Higher Executive Officer

Tel: 091 503723



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