Offaly minister praises farmers for restoring wetlands

Offaly minister praises farmers for restoring wetlands

Minister Pippa Hackett meets farmers in Abbeyleix

Minister Pippa Hackett has praised farmers who work at protecting wetlands. 

She was speaking at the final day of the Natural Climate Buffers Study Tour organised by the Irish Community Wetlands Forum in Abbeyleix.

“It is through work like this on the ground by farmers across the country that we can begin to see real progress,” she said.

Minister Hackett, who has responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity, praised the Community Wetlands Forum and the Irish Ramsar Wetlands Committee for working to raise awareness of the importance of our wetlands. 

Her comments focused on the part which farmers play in restoring wetlands, and follows on from the recently launched FARMPeat project, supported by her Department. This is an innovative, results-based scheme for farmers in the Midlands, who manage lands that surround some of Ireland's finest remaining raised bogs.

“It is the role of the farming community in protecting the network of those lower profile or unknown wetland sites across our landscape that I would like to highlight today,” she told the gathering.  

“Although there is continued work needed on awareness, policy and protection for these sites there is also excellent work being carried out by our farming community on the ground.  

“Techniques such as drain blocking and farm management practices that promote wetland restoration need that on the ground knowledge which farmers can provide.

Other projects, such as the Wild Atlantic Nature LIFE IP, the Pearl Mussel Project and Hen Harrier Project all employ specifically adapted locally led results based agri-environmental schemes to benefit habitats and species. 

“This locally led and landscape scale approach means that farmers truly are at the heart of wetland habitat restoration and protection in these areas as they learn how best to sustainably manage their land through the support of the scheme.”

The gathering was also attended by Heritage Minister Malcolm Noonan who paid tribute to the work the National Parks and Wildlife Service, state agencies, environmental organizations and local communities. 

“I truly do believe that local communities and volunteers are the custodians of our heritage and must be supported in their efforts,” he said.

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