The rollout of the ACRES Breifne, ACRES Leinster and ACRES Munster / South Connacht Co-operation Projects is supported by the Hen Harrier Programme Ltd. Our team designed and delivered the Hen Harrier Project to over 1,600 farmers. We pioneered the use of apps for reporting of habitat condition and the use of field data to target training for farmers and other interventions. We were the first to adopt a landscape level approach, with targeted interventions to protect nest sites from disturbance, predation and wildfire risk. We believe that to be effective we have to build support for conservation from the bottom up. To do this, we need to supply participating farmers with practical and technical supports.
We are dependent on farmers to deliver for the environment, but we can help coordinate action at a landscape level, provide assistance with targeting of actions, provide training and ease the administrative burden on farmers. This is our mission. To achieve it, we will expand on the innovations developed in the Hen Harrier Project. Our staff will provide supports for approx. 60% of the farmers in the CP areas. This challenge is on a scale never attempted before but we are confident that we can deliver. Our approach is innovative, our team are motivated and prepared. They are well trained and are equipped with the latest technology, but most importantly they know that real benefits have to come from the bottom up.
All of us are keenly aware that to be successful we must support farmers and local communities as they work to deliver for our environment.
Local Area Plan
The ACRES Scheme Local Area Plan is a comprehensive and dynamic approach to addressing environmental and conservation challenges within a specific region. By working closely with local stakeholders, the project team is able to identify the key objectives and pressures impacting the area and develop strategies to address them. The plan serves as a guide for the project team, providing direction for their work and ensuring that their efforts are targeted and effective.
Ongoing consultation with farmers and other stakeholders through a steering committee and local area partnerships, ensures that the plan remains relevant and responsive to the changing needs of the community. This collaborative approach helps to ensure the long-term success of the program and the protection of the local environment.
The Farmers Experience of the ACRES Scheme
The Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme provides a tailored approach to support habitat enhancement by farmers. The farm plan is produced by a project team and will be used by your advisor in the assessment of privately owned lands. The project team will assess commonages. The score from these assessments is used to calculate your habitat payments. This payment is linked to the habitat quality of your farm, the higher the quality the greater your payment. It is capped at a maximum of €7,000 per year.
The scheme also offers farmers the opportunity to avail of Non-Productive Investments (NPI) and Landscape Actions. These are designed to address local challenges and to help achieve specific local objectives. These supports are aimed at enhancing the environment, not just on your farm, but across the broader landscape. Every farmer has a basic allowance of €17,500 for NPIs and Landscape Actions over the duration of their contract. Where the habitat payment does not reach €7,000, the farmer can make up the shortfall by opting for additional NPIs or Landscape Actions.
Farm Advisors will help farmers select NPIs for their farm. CP Team Project Officers will help farmers with planning appropriate Landscape Actions. Applications for NPIs and Landscape Actions are expected to open in September 2023.