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More Farms to benefit from FREE Farm Plans within Geopark

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More Farms to benefit from FREE Farm Plans within Geopark

More farms can now benefit from a FREE farm plan than ever before. The AONB and Geopark programme provided by the Woodland Trust, in partnership with the Ring of Gullion and Strangford & Lecale AONBs, is now available over a much larger area.

Previously a farm had to be within one of the AONBs to apply. However, now the area eligible has expanded to the whole Aspiring Geopark as well as the AONB’s. Since its inception, the project has delivered more than 44 farm plans. Over the last four years, the project has provided woodland and hedgerow planning for more than 30000 ha of farmland, and farms from 4 to 400ha have benefitted.

Following a site visit and detailed discussion, the Woodland Trust works in partnership with the farmer to create planned, effective green infrastructure on the land. This plan can help provide shade and shelter, reduce the overland flow of water and much more. The farmer can also get help in exploring funding opportunities.

Despite recent uncertainty in the industry, farming is still the mainstay of the rural community forming the bedrock of the rural economy in the area. However, there can be no doubt that farming, especially hill farming, is under significant pressure.

Increases in fodder, fuel and fertilizer costs have recently led to declines in overall income. With time and money at a premium, many farmers are now looking for more efficient ways to make farming pay. Research has proved that increased shelter from hedges and woodlands can have a marked impact on agribusiness. For example, shelterbelts can result in a 30% reduction in lamb losses, especially in multiple births, and more significant daily live weight gains per unit of food. Supplementary feeding can also be reduced, and the grazing season extended as land under trees absorbs rainwater up to 60 times better than exposed land.

Newry Mourne and Down Council Chairperson Councillor Michael Savage said,

“In a world of increased economic costs and more severe climate risks, even small changes to a farm’s resilience can have a big impact. Properly planned planting is a vital tool in the movement towards viability”.

“I am pleased that we can offer this service to more farmers than ever, as we have been able to expand the boundary outside the AONBs to the border of the whole Aspiring Geopark. Of course, not all farmers will be able to use this service, but we hope that many who could benefit will apply.”

In the first instance, farmers should speak to the AONB and Geopark management team. Contact Abby McSherry at 07708510344 [email protected]. or Judith Hassard at 07548159835 [email protected].

To find out more about the programme, check out this video on the Ring of Gullion’s YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qur-LzFx7yc

 

Lottery Funded
NIEA DoE N&M DC Biodiversity

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