Welcome to the Burren and to the Burren Programme!
The Burren (from the Gaelic word Boireann, ‘place of stone’) is a very distinctive limestone landscape which extends over roughly 720km2 of north Co. Clare and south Co. Galway along Ireland’s mid-western coast. It is a refuge for a great many plant and animal species which are now rare elsewhere in Ireland and Europe, and also boasts a fascinating archaeological record which maps over 5,500 years of human endeavour on what is sometimes referred to as ‘the fertile rock’. Though largely privately owned, the Burren and its rich and varied heritage represent a public resource of inestimable value.
Farming is integral to the character and composition of the Burren. The ancient transhumance practice of winter grazing on the rough limestone grasslands and heaths is central to the health and diversity of the many species and habitats therein. In a similar way, much of the Burren’s archaeological and geological heritage can be directly linked to the work of generations of farmers.
Today, several hundred farm families continue to live and farm in the Burren despite the challenges posed in an era of efficiency-driven farming and by the rough, unforgiving terrain. These farm families produce excellent livestock as did their forefathers, and in many cases this is achieved using the same ancient pastoral traditions. Crucially, they also hold the key to the future wellbeing of the Burren.
Burren Programme is a locally targeted conservation programme which invests in these Burren farmers, their land and livestock. It works closely with them to optimise their farming systems so they can continue to produce high quality agricultural goods from an outstanding environment.
From BurrenLIFE Project to Burren Farming for Conservation Programme (BFCP)
This Burren Programme has its origins in the BurrenLIFE Project (2005-2009), the findings of which became the foundations for the Burren Farming for Conservation Programme (BFCP), which started up in 2010. See The BurrenLIFE Project Final Report 2010 and the Final Technical Report and the Programme section of this website for details on both the BurrenLIFE Project and the BFCP.
We wish to take this opportunity to thank former members of the BurrenLIFE Project and BFCP including James Moran, Ruairí Ó Conchúir, Aisling Keane, Grace O’Donovan, Sarah O’Louglin Irwin, Rachael Barrett and Caitriona Maher for all their hard work and contribution.
Burren Programme – A new era begins!
After six very successful years of BFCP it has come time to fine tune the programme. Under the Rural Development Programme, co-financed by the EU and DAFM, with support from NPWS, this locally led scheme, now named the Burren Programme, will run for six years. It is envisaged that up to 500 farms will be included, by 2020. In 2016, 200 farmers successfully applied to be part of the Burren Programme, as part of the first tranche of applicants. This followed, in 2017, with an additional 100 farmers joining the programme. In February 2018, a further third, and final tranche, were added, with over 100 farmers invited to join the programme. The Burren Team, situated in Carron, the heart of the Burren, look forward to supporting all the farmers in this new phase of Burren conservation, through the Burren Programme. The pages of this website will give you much information about the Burren Programme.