High Nature Value Farming (HNVF)

The concept of HNVF developed from a growing recognition that the conservation of biodiversity in Europe depends on the continuation of low-intensity farming systems (www.high-nature-value-farming.eu). Supporting HNVF is now a key priority in the Rural Development Plans of many countries and is a key objective of the Burren Programme. The Burren is an excellent example of a HNVF landscape and Burren Programme is now widely recognised as a leading model of how HNV farmers can be effectively supported to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services, and rewarded when they do.

burren-life-Small Eggar-0031Hybrid model of AES

The innovative and effective approach championed by Burren Programme — through which farmers are paid for actions and outputs — has been recognised at an international level. The Burren is the first Irish landscape (and one of the few privately owned areas in Europe) to receive the Council of Europe’s prestigious ‘European Diploma for Protected Areas’ award, largely in recognition of the impact of Burren Farming for Conservation Programme (BFCP), predecessor of Burren Programme.  Burren Programme is now also inspiring other regions across Europe to explore how this ‘hybrid approach’ might work in different locations with different issues.

EU model

The initial BurrenLIFE research project which created a blueprint for the sustainable farming of the Burren, was awarded a ‘Best of the Best’ award for EU LIFE Nature projects in 2010, and in 2017 won the prestigious Best Ever EU LIFE Nature and Biodiversity award. The BurrenLIFE Project continues to generate a lot of interest at an EU level.   Equally, the Burren Programme has recently been featured as a case study at EU level in the context of Results Based Agri Environment Programmes (RBAPS)  and is now a partner in a EU funded research project to extend this approach to other regions including Sligo-Leitrim and the Shannon Callows (Ireland) and the Navarra Region (Spain) (www.efncp.org).  The Burren is one of the Learning Areas within the European wide HNVLink project. This project creates a community of practice and knowledge by linking areas throughout the European Union where HNV farming systems are prevalent.


burren-life-Willow Warbler 0005Closer to home, Burren Programme worked with the Aran LIFE project which adopted a similar approach to the initial Burren LIFE research project, in its efforts to protect the wonderful farmed landscape of the Aran Islands, Co. Galway.   BP still work closely to the follow on project Caomhnú Árann. Over the past fifteen years, the Burren team and Burren farming community has hosted visiting groups from many other HNVF areas in Ireland including Kerry, Donegal, Mayo, Carlow, Wicklow and Waterford, as well as a number of groups from the UK and further afield. Burren Programme continue to support these farming communities to access additional support, for example through the new European Innovation Partnership for Agriculture Productivity and Sustainability (EIP-AGRI).

In 2015, Burren Programme in conjunction with Bord Bia presented Origin Green Farming for Conservation Awards to Burren farmers. Since 2018 this initiative has gone national. Our friends in Farming for Nature aim to support high nature value farming in Ireland. The main purpose of this award was to unearth and to share the stories of farmers across Ireland who are making a positive difference to nature on their farms and in their communities. Farming for Nature shows that farmers are a part of nature and not apart from it, and with these examples can encourage others to follow suit.  Burren Programme work closely with Farming for Nature to support this national initative.

To find out more:

As the work of the Burren team is focussed on delivering conservation outputs with local farmers, the time available to host visiting groups is very limited. Our main focus in hosting visiting groups is to host farmers. For other groups who want an introductory presentation on the Burren (including Burren Programme) we highly recommend the Burrenbeo Trust (www.burrenbeo.com), Glebe Road, Kinvara, Co. Galway. Contact (091)638096 or email trust@burrenbeo.com

For guided walks on farms (which are exemplars of the work of the Burren Programme), please contact one of the following Burren farmers:

  • Pat Nagle, Baunkyle, Corofin, Co. Clare (087) 9381799
  • Patrick McCormack, Glanquin, Kilnaboy, Co. Clare (065) 7089187 (refreshments also available)
  • Harry Jeuken Poulnalour, Kilnaboy, Co. Clare (065) 7089017 (refreshments also available)
  • John Marrinan, Shessomore, Kilfenora, Co.Clare, 087 4375809 (refreshments also available)
  • Pat & Nuala Daly, Carron, Co. Clare (065) 7089161 (refreshments also available)
  • Cathal & Bronagh O’Rourke, Kylecreen, Boston, Tubber, Co. Clare, 086 3990440 (refreshments also available) website: burrenfarmexperience.ie

Please note that fees are charged by these providers.

For help with transport, tours, food and accommodation we strongly recommend that you contact the Burren Ecotourism Network on www.burren.ie or on (065)7072295.