The Minister of State with responsibility for land use and biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett has officially launched the Kerry Eco-Social Farming European Innovation Partnership (EIP).
The project evolved from the Kerry Social Farming (KSF) initiative established in 2013 by the South Kerry Development Partnership (SKDP). KSF currently operates with 30 host farms and 39 participants.
The EIP brings an established group of farmers together in Kerry to deliver biodiversity in local communities.
It works with host farmers, participants from disability services and their support workers, as well as the wider community to enhance biodiversity on farms.
A biodiversity plan will be developed for each participating farm and training will be provided on hedgerow, wildflower and water quality management.
The farms will be supported in implementing actions which benefit pollinators, bats and birds.
Speaking at the launch Minister of State, Pippa Hackett outlined that the project incorporates three key elements: Creation; engagement; and monitoring.
“Community engagement and participation are central to this project,” the minister said.
“I look forward to seeing the outputs of the initiative which will help the work of my department to improve our management of landscapes in innovative ways, while delivering a valuable social service for local communities,” Hackett added.
The Kerry project was successful in the application to Call Five under the EIP-AGRI programme.
This seeks to build links between the promotion of biodiversity and farmers, local communities and the wider public; projects will run for one year.
The EIP Scheme funds projects that allow farmers, scientists and other experts to collaborate together to develop new practices that are environmentally friendly and economically sustainable.
The ultimate aim of these innovation partnerships is to road-test new ideas and practices which can then be used more widely by farmers and others to improve productivity and enhance resource efficiency.
In Ireland, agri-environment-related EIP projects, with a budget of €66 million, are currently operating in 12 different counties involving up to 3,000 farms across a broad spectrum of land types and farming systems.