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Teagasc and the Irish Ramsar Wetlands Committee highlight the importance of Wetlands

The value of wetlands and the importance of farming on wetlands was highlighted at the launch of a new leaflet on ‘Farming and Wetlands’ by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD and Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle. The launch took place today Wednesday, 23 September at the Teagasc stand at the National Ploughing Championships in county Laois.

Minister Humphreys said: "This leaflet provides very useful information to farmers about how to protect and preserve our wetlands, which are a vital natural resource. Wetlands are very important for plant and animal life and farming can help to protect their rich biodiversity. I would like to commend Teagasc for producing this leaflet, which I hope will be a useful resource for farmers."

Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle welcomed this multi-agency initiative to highlight the importance of farming on wetlands, through the Irish Ramsar Wetland Committee of which Teagasc is a member along with governmental organisations, local authorities, academic institute personnel and non-governmental organisations.

Wetlands are areas where water has a major influence on the soil, associated plant and animal life, and on the farming system. They include floodplains and wet grasslands as well as lakes, rivers, ponds swamps and bogs. By their nature, wetlands often remain unimproved – never reseeded or heavily fertilised, thus providing a resource now more appreciated and valued.

Farming is important for the management of wetland grasslands, according to Catherine Keena, Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist. For example grazing of turloughs and cutting callow meadows is essential to maintain their rich biodiversity. Many wetland sites are considered Priority Environmental Assets in GLAS, the agri-environment scheme, giving farmers with these sites priority access into the scheme. Some are designated private NATURA sites and others are identified as GLAS Farmland Bird areas for breeding waders, corncrake, or geese and swans. Farms who fence off rivers and streams identified as Vulnerable Water Areas, which are considered Environmental Assets, have increased chances of access to GLAS. Teagasc advise farmers with wetlands to consider their options under GLAS now, as advisers can identify these Priority Assets on the GLAS online planning system.

View the new Wetlands Brochure at the following link wetlands-leaflet