In addition to the three CP zones (ACRES Breifne, ACRES Leinster and ACRES Munster South Connacht) our teams have taken on the task of assessing all commonages over 10 ha outside of Donegal, Mayo, and the Western parts of Cork, Galway, Kerry, Roscommon, and Sligo. All of these commonages will be assessed before the end of the 2023 season. This is needed to.
- To calculate payments to participating farmers
- To establish a baseline against which future changes can be compared.
- To identify opportunities for potential Landscape Actions
- To collect data to inform the screening of Landscape Actions and Non-Productive Investments.
Completing the assessments of almost 90,000 ha of commonage spread across 23 counties is a considerable task. The only comparable undertaking of this type was the production of the Commonage Framework Plans in the 1990’s, that process took years to complete. We don’t have years, but we do have the ability to commit staff full time on the walkover assessments with logistic support from our admin team. Where possible the teams will also benefit from having aerial drone surveys to guide their work.
We are committing 20-22 Project staff per day; these are organised into a Northern and a Southern group, centred on our Breifne and Leinster/ Munster South Connacht offices. Our approach is to focus the resources within each group on a cluster of commonages. Work these through to completion and then move on to the next cluster. Using this approach we can direct up to six teams of two to three staff on a single mountain range and typically complete the assessment within one to two weeks. Some smaller clusters will be completed in a shorter time, those with very large areas of commonage, e.g. the Slieve Aughties in Clare and Galway and the Wicklow Mountains will take longer.
To date, we have completed the assessments for commonages in the Dartry Mountains in Sligo and Leitrim, the Galtees in Limerick and Tipperary, the Knockmealdown Mountains in Waterford and Musheramore in Co Cork completed. The Slieve Aughties are almost finished as are the scattered commonages in Limerick, North Cork, and North Kerry. The Comeragh Mountains in Co. Waterford will be finished next week.
Our Breifne teams are moving on to Cuilcagh in Co. Cavan this week and the Leinster/ Munster South Connacht teams will start on the Blackstairs in Co.’s Carlow and Wexford shortly. By the end of this week we aim to have close to 40% of the area assessed. We are making good progress and are confident of completing the task on time. I can assure farmers in the Slieve Blooms, the Cooleys, in Wicklow and other sites that have not visited yet, we have not forgotten, your commonages will be assessed on time.