IFA: Farmers have an important role in Biodiversity

FA Environment and Rural Affairs Chairman Paul O’Brien has said farmers and farming play an important role in protecting and enhancing biodiversity.

“Farmers do not get enough recognition for their role in protecting the quality of nature found in the countryside. Irish farmland is filled with a broad range of habitats from hedgerows, field margins, ponds, streams, native woodland, bogs and species-rich meadows and pastures. There are habitats in every farm corner that contribute to biodiversity,” he said.

Ireland has the third largest total hedgerow area in the EU. The Teagasc Irish Hedge Map estimates Ireland’s cover of hedgerows, individual trees and non-forest woodland and scrub is 450,000 hectares or 6.4% cover.

Paul O’Brien, who is also Smart Farming’s Programme Leader, said the basics are there, they just need to be enhanced.

“Appropriately-designed wildlife measures could play an important role in halting the decline of biodiversity and achieving the goals of sustainable expansion.

“Ireland’s grass-based farming system is well positioned in terms of the wildlife. According to a recent UCD Farm Habitat survey, the average farm area under semi natural habitat area across Ireland is 13%-15% compared to 2.1% in the Netherlands and between 1%-4% in Poland,’ he concluded.