A new project in the Bride valley in east Cork will reward participating farmers for wildlife on their farms.

The ‘Biodiversity Regeneration In a Dairying Environment’ (BRIDE) project will provide participating farmers with farm habitat plans that identify the most appropriate and effective wildlife management options for individual farms. Farmers will be paid for their conservation actions.

The BRIDE project was one of 11 projects selected from over 100 applications by the Department of Agriculture Food, and the Marine and the European Union, under the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) funding programme.

An innovative element of the project is its higher payments for higher wildlife gains (a results-based approach) – the more flowers in a hedgerow or field margin, the higher the payment.

The greater reward for a higher quality product is very familiar to farmers, and the BRIDE project applies this principle to the management of wildlife habitats.

This also means that farmers will be paid for the ongoing management of selected existing wildlife habitats, which is an important feature of the project.

Donal Sheehan, the BRIDE project manager – who lives in Castlelyons – emphasised: “The BRIDE project has been designed by local farmers for local farmers and this is one of the most important distinguishing features of the project.”

The BRIDE project will be open to farmers within the Bride river catchment area, from Glenville to Tallow. A public information meeting will be held in the Corrin Event Centre at 8:00pm on Wednesday, May 2.

The project will run for five years and is designed to increase and maintain biodiversity on intensively-managed farms in the area through simple, innovative measures.

The effects on wildlife will be monitored through the project, which aims to create suitable habitats for local populations of wildlife – including skylarks, yellowhammers, bumblebees, frogs and newts.

An ecologist will work with participating farmers to develop a farm plan and advise on how to maximise the wildlife on their farms – and will focus on important habitats such as hedgerows, bogs, woodlands, ponds, derelict buildings etc.

Farmers will improve the environment for the wider community and local participation will help forge a strong identity that values local wildlife and the ‘farming with nature’ concept, the organisers of the project explained.