BurrenLIFE project has received a ‘Best Ever’ award (Nature and Biodiversity category) in the 25-year history of the European Commission LIFE progrmame.
Commissioner DG Environment Karmenu Vella presents the Green Award to Dr Brendan Dunford and Dr Sharon Parr for Burren Life Project (2005-2010). Photo Ruairi Ó Chonchúir
In the last 25 years, the programme has helped to reduce human impact on the environment; preserve nature and biodiversity and fight climate change. Fifteen LIFE projects were shortlisted from 4,500 entries as nominees for ‘Green Awards’. Nominees were selected by jury based on long-term sustainability; communication potential and broader impact on a national, European and global level, and voted on the public.
In the late 1990s, local farmers along with Teagasc, UCD and the National Parks and Wildlife Service agreed on a research project: ‘The Impact of Agriculture Practices on the Natural Heritage of the Burren’. It highlighted the important role that farming plays in supporting the rich biodiversity and agricultural heritage of the Burren along with decline in traditional farming systems and the dependent habitats.
In 2004, the original partners sought funding from the EU LIFE fund to address some of the problems identified and to develop ‘A blueprint from the sustainable agricultural management of the Burren’. The BurrenLIFE project (2005-2010) was the first major farming for conservation project in Ireland and one of very few EU projects to place farmers at the centre of the conservation agenda.
This project paved the way for the Burren Farming Conservation Programme (2010-2015) which currently involves over 300 farmers.
The awards recognise the most outstanding completed LIFE projects since 1992.