• Conserving Farmland Biodiversity – Lessons learned and future prospects

      O hUallachain, Daire; Finn, John (School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin in association with Teagasc, 2011)
      A conference Conserving Farmland Biodiversity: Lessons learned and future prospects was held in Wexford, Ireland on the 25th and 26th of May 2011. Through a combination of keynote presentations and theatre presentations, delegates were informed of latest developments in policy and research relevant to farmland biodiversity in Ireland. Four main broad categories dominated the content of the conference: agricultural policy, agri-environment schemes, High Nature Value farming systems, and a variety of case studies that assessed the success of specific conservation actions. As the European Union refocuses its commitment to halting biodiversity loss, reform of the post-2013 CAP is proceeding with an increased emphasis on environmental goals. This conference provided a timely discussion of these policies, and the conservation needs and actions for Irish habitats and species. Here we provide a summary of the main themes and issues presented at the conference.
    • A review of evidence on the environmental impact of Ireland’s Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS)

      Finn, John; O hUallachain, Daire (Royal Irish Academy, 2012-04)
      Since its inception in 1994, there has been strong demand for evidence of the environmental effectiveness of the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS), which paid farmers in the Republic of Ireland over €3 billion by 2010. A variety of research projects have been undertaken that investigate the environmental effects of REPS through an examination of either specific environmental measures or specific geographical areas. A review of available publications confirmed the absence of a comprehensive, national-scale study of the environmental impacts of REPS. Because of this, there is insufficient evidence with which to judge the environmental effectiveness of the national-scale implementation of the whole scheme. For some specific measures, however, sufficient evidence is available to inform an objective assessment in some cases, and to help learn how to improve environmental effectiveness in most cases. The majority of the REPS payments are now dedicated toward biodiversity objectives. Thus, biodiversity measures and options should be a priority for any national-scale environmental assessment of the scheme. Such a study would help identify the environmental benefits of REPS, the specific elements of REPS that are performing adequately, and those elements that are in need of improvement. Given the considerable overlap between REPS measures and options and those included in the 2010 Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS), assessment of REPS measures could also be used to inform the likely environmental performance of the AEOS.