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REPS Scoping Study

Monitoring the environmental impacts of the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme: a scoping study.

This desk study aimed to support decision-making about the appropriate design and implementation of an environmental monitoring programme for Irish agri-environment schemes. Although it uses REPS as an example, it provides lessons that are just as relevant to more recent programmes such as AEOS and GLAS.

The objectives of this scoping study were to:

  1. Outline the currently available evidence on environmental performance of the REPS
  2. Clarify the operational issues confronting an environmental assessment
  3. Present an outline of a monitoring programme for the REPS

There is insufficient evidence with which to judge the environmental impact of the REPS as a whole. For selected measures/options, some evidence exists on their likely effectiveness. (Discussed in the Biology and Environment article listed below.)

We estimated that the environmental monitoring of selected REPS measures, supplementary measures, biodiversity options and Measure A would cost about €3.4 million over a 4-year period. The average annual budget for the monitoring programme (~€0.86m) would be less than 0.25% of the recent annual expenditure on REPS (>€360m in 2009). (Discussed in the End of Project Report listed below.)

Because of the very different spatial distribution of different REPS measures, supplementary measures and options, privileged access to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (DAFF) REPS database and e-REPS would be necessary for selection of farms and provision of relevant information. The effectiveness and cost-efficiency of the monitoring programme would be very dependent on such privileged access.

There is insufficient monitoring and measurement of the environmental effectiveness of agri-environment schemes. As a consequence, such schemes get insufficient credit for their successes, and are restricted in identifying underperformance and taking corrective action.

The cost of measuring the environmental performance of agri-environment schemes should be viewed as an investment in securing the future of such schemes.

Further information can be obtained from Dr John Finn john.finn[at]teagasc.ie

Further information

Finn, J.A. 2012. Monitoring the environmental impacts of the REPS scheme - 5757. 3 pages

Finn, J.A. (2010) ‘Monitoring the environmental impacts of the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme: a scoping study’ REPSScopingStudy_Finn, RMIS 5757, Teagasc. 44 pages

Finn, J.A. and Ó hUallacháin, D. 2012. A review of evidence for the environmental effectiveness of Ireland’s Rural Environmental Protection Scheme. Biology and Environment. 112b: 1-24. Journal version or Open Access version via T-Stór