Farmers Called To Help Conserve Protected Grasslands - Durkan

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan is calling on farmers to apply for grazing and cropping rights on 250 acres of conservation land.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has 11 opportunities for farm businesses to tender for grazing and cropping rights on more than 250 acres of land managed by the Agency across Northern Ireland.

As a result of a review of its grazing arrangements, NIEA aims to work more closely with the farming community and use farmers' skills to achieve positive conservation outcomes on grassland and other grazed habitats across a wider range of sites, including nature reserves, lands around historic monuments and Country Parks.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: "We recognise the valuable input local farmers can, and do make, to the conservation of our natural habitats. For many years NIEA has been using a range of methods to manage the Department's lands for their conservation value. These methods have included entering into licence agreements, such as this current opportunity, and through the use of its own rare breed livestock.

"These lands have environmental or heritage features which are enhanced by specifically devised grazing plans. This is an opportunity for farmers to assist in the delivery of conservation management on these habitats; I hope it will appeal to farmers with a genuine interest in preserving our heritage and to demonstrate good conservation practice.

"Here in the North we are enriched by a beautiful countryside. We must work together to protect this and ensure our green land is both protected and maintained for the benefit of all."
By working in partnership with farmers to achieve favourable outcomes on its own lands, NIEA hopes to provide real examples to demonstrate to the wider farming community how such conservation targets can be delivered.

The 11 lots being advertised range from two acres at Redburn Country Park near Holywood to an opportunity to enter into an agreement with NIEA to graze 100 acres of wet grassland on the shores of Lough Neagh.

Further information:
SDLP Press Office 028 9052 1364
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