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Farming and Natural Resources: Measures for Ecological Sustainability


Biodiversity has undergone significant declines throughout Ireland and Europe in recent decades. The trend is particularly apparent in agricultural ecosystems, where changes in farming practices (e.g. intensification, specialisation, abandonment) have led to a decrease in habitats and species dependent on agricultural practices.  

This project, in close consultation with key stakeholders, will identify and outline the evidence base for novel, cost-effective measures to protect and enhance farmland biodiversity. These measures will increase habitat quantity, enhance habitat quality and improve ecological connectivity, from farm to landscape scale.  Measures will thus help halt biodiversity loss and enhance the provision of above and below ground ecosystem services, thus supporting agriculture and local communities.

The project will build on international research to identify new agri-environment measures appropriate to Irish conditions. Cost-benefit analysis of selected measures will identify those most suitable for inclusion in future iterations of agri-environment policy (e.g. GLAS, Ecological Focus Areas).

The farm and landscape scale research in this study will address gaps in knowledge related to the importance of habitat quality and ecological connectivity in halting biodiversity loss and enhancing the provision of ecosystem services. Additionally, the spatial extent of benefits will be determined using spatial modelling. The results will feed back into cost-benefit models to help stakeholders assess the ecosystem services associated with farm habitats. This approach will facilitate the identification of measures and practices required to enhance habitat quantity, quality, connectivity and the provision of ecosystem services.

The project will provide stakeholders with the necessary evidence base for novel measures and practices to effectively protect and enhance biodiversity and associated ecosystem services. Addressing these challenges will help the agri-food sector achieve its objectives in relation to the development of economically and environmentally sustainable food production systems. 

Field boundary habitats play an important role for biodiversity water quality, carbon storage along with additional ecosystem services




This project is funded by Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine