Ireland’s BurrenLIFE project (LIFE04 NAT/IE/000125) has produced innovations in results-based approaches to agri-environment action that have been highlighted as good practice by EU rural development authorities. This accolade comes from the first phase of a new initiative by the European Parliament and European Commission promoting wider uptake by Member States of results-based agri-environment payment schemes (RBAPS).
Whilst the LIFE programme has supported many projects that have fed into the development of management-based agri-environment schemes, the BurrenLIFE project is a pioneer of this new results-based approach to agri-environment payment. RBAPS differ from conventional agri-environment schemes because they focus their payments on recorded biodiversity results, rather than compensating for specific land management actions. They also provide farmers with more flexibility to manage their land as they choose in order to achieve the desired results. In addition, biodiversity conservation has been shown to be more cost-effective through RBAPS than conventional alternatives.
BurrenLIFE’s work to develop and demonstrate a successful RBAPS model is showcased in a new ‘Farming for Biodiversity Engagement Platform’ on the DG Environment website pages. The LIFE project introduced an RBAPS methodology as part of its work to encourage farmer-led approaches for conserving Natura 2000 sites located throughout the Burren’s unique limestone landscape.
The engagement platform includes a video case study about BurrenLIFE, as well as shorter videos in which project coordinator, Dr Brendan Dunford, addresses specific issues related to RBAPS, based on the project’s experience, including: How to achieve biodiversity outcomes from RBAPS; what are the essential design factors for an effective RBAPS; and how to involve farmers in RBAPS.
The new platform also features a detailed technical analysis of the Burren RBAPS, part of an inventory of international RBAPS models.
Dr Dunford is enthusiastic about the potential for replicating the LIFE project methodology elsewhere: “We found that our results-based approach works very well because it gives the farmers here a target for improving their environmental performance….it gives the farmers a new language to talk about the environment and their environmental output. And one that makes real sense to them,” he explains.
The BurrenLIFE team is part of a new RBAPS Community of Practice that has been established at EU level by the European Parliament and European Commission to further promote and develop RBAPS.
Further information about RBAPS and the BurrenLIFE good practices can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/rbaps/index_en.htm