Agbiota Conference

Date released: Mar 30 2005

“Farmers play role as the principal custodians of the rural environment in Ireland and as key managers of the countryside”

EPA/UCD Conference - The Impact of Farming on Ireland's Flora and Fauna

€1.3m EPA funded project on biodiversity

The impact of farming on Ireland’s flora and fauna will be discussed at tomorrow’s one-day EPA/UCD conference on biological diversity in the Irish countryside. The conference will focus on building a scientific baseline to support the development of agri-environmental policy. 

 ‘Ireland is committed to playing its part in achieving the EU’s target of halting biodiversity loss by 2010.  To achieve this, we must have the facts.  Biodiversity is one area of the environment where there has been a dearth of knowledge across Europe and elsewhere.  We hope that this conference will contribute to a better understanding of key aspects of flora and fauna in the farmed landscape and how to protect and enhance them’; Mr Larry Stapleton, EPA Director will say in his opening address.

The EPA Conference, Biodiversity in the Farmed Landscape is being hosted in conjunction with the Faculty of Agri-Food and Environment in UCD.  It will highlight the role that farmers play as the principal custodians of the rural environment in Ireland and as key managers of the countryside.  Delegates will discuss methods to assess the impact of farming practice on flora and fauna in response to policy change such as Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS) reform. 

A large agri-environmental project, Ag-biota, being funded by the EPA as part of its Research Programme, will form the central theme at the conference.  Co-ordinated by Dr. Gordon Purvis of the Faculty of Agri-Food and Environment, UCD, the project investigates the impact of farming practice on biological diversity within the wider landscape.   The €1.3 million project is part of an overall €32 million investment by the EPA in research on the environment and sustainable development.

Selected Conference Topics
I.    In addition to guest speakers from Scotland and Northern Ireland, Ag-Biota researchers will present papers on a wide range of topics such as indicators of the long-term effects of farming on flora and fauna, the link between biodiversity and various crop husbandry practices and measures to promote biodiversity within the farmed landscape.

II.   UCD postgraduate researcher, Barry McMahon, will present his interim findings on the link between bird diversity and the structure and management of field boundaries which provide important habitats for both breeding and over-wintering bird species.  Such findings will help in the development of bird specific measures to be implemented through schemes such as REPS to create an environment where agricultural production needs and biodiversity can successfully co-exist.

III.  Speaking on the biodiversity of bumblebees on Irish farms, Veronica Santorum, University of Limerick, will say that “The Ag-Biota project has provided us with a baseline for bumblebees on farms for the present day, against which the effects of agri-environmental schemes such as REPS can be monitored into the future.  Ongoing research aims to provide recommendations for the conservation of these important insects in the agriculture landscape, so that they will retain their place in Ireland’s wildlife”.

For further information please visit the EPA website at www.epa.ie