Pamela Boyle

Project Title: Halting biodiversity loss: the potential of high nature value farmland in the northwest of Ireland

Supervisor: Dr. James Moran

Funding Body: IT Sligo President’s Bursary Awards

Description of the project

This project focuses on the sustainable development of agricultural landscapes through High Nature Value (HNV) farming in the north west of Ireland. The concept of high nature value farmland has developed in Europe in response to the pressures on extensive farming systems and the biodiversity it supports. High nature value farmland areas are defined as those areas of Europe where agriculture is a major (usually the dominant) land use and where that agriculture supports or is associated with either a high species and habitat diversity or the presence of species of European conservation concern or both. European member states have committed to identifying HNV farmland, supporting and maintaining HNV farming through the Rural Development Programme (RDP) and monitoring changes to the extent of HNV farmland. The north west of Ireland has been identified as an area with a high proportion of HNV farmland, however, the lack of information on this area, their biodiversity and the farming systems that support them has lead to lack of targeting of resources to support and maintain them. This project aims to test existing methodologies for the identification and quantification of high nature value farmland areas; determine the link between biodiversity and land use management practices on selected farmland areas and develop farm level indicators for monitoring changes in the extent and quality of high nature value farmland.