The project is working in three areas:
- Lowland semi-natural grasslands in County Leitrim, Ireland
- The Shannon Callows, Ireland
- Mediterranean upland areas of Navarra, Spain
Within Ireland two contrasting regions, the Shannon Callows (an SAC and SPA) and the largely-undesignated lowland areas of County Leitrim were chosen for trialling the result-based approach. In these areas the improved management of both habitats (species-rich grassland and species-rich floodplain meadows) and species (Marsh Fritillary butterfly Euphydryas aurinia and breeding wader birds, including snipe Gallinago gallinago, curlew Numenius arquata, redshank Tringa totanus and lapwing Vanellus vanellus) is being developed.
Leitrim contains a number of important sites for the Marsh Fritillary, now threatened by loss of habitat. Threats to semi-natural grasslands in Leitrim include intensification, abandonment and predominantly, conversion to forestry.
On the Shannon callows, breeding waders are associated with wet grasslands, mostly those that are grazed at an appropriate stocking level, have sufficient chick rearing areas and limited impact from predators. The species rich meadows on the callows face threats from both intensification (e.g. use of fertiliser and herbicides) and in recent years for some, a lack of mowing due to a combination of summer flooding and late mowing regimes (for Corncrake). As a consequence, the quality of those areas left uncut for more than one year has reduced and Filipendula ulmaria has spread, which in turn results in increased herbicide use on some meadows.
The upland zone of the Mediterranean region of Navarra supports a mosaic of vineyards, olive and almond groves, arable plots, rough grazing areas and high edges density which offer an important variety of ecological niches for wildlife (Iragui et al. 2010). Nevertheless the increase in the amount of herbicides and pesticides being used in vineyards and olive groves, a simultaneous reduction in traditional grazing pressure and a gradual extension of irrigated cultivation with intensive varieties and techniques are leading to a loss in biodiversity throughout the landscape. Traditional almond groves don’t lend themselves to intensification and are now facing abandonment, with the loss of species rich ground flora and associated insects and birds (Iragui et al. 2010).
Iragui, U., Astrain, C. & Beaufoy, G. (2010). Sistemas agrarios y forestales de alto valor natural en Navarra. Identificación y monitorización. Gobierno de Navarra, Gestión Ambiental Viveros y Repoblaciones de Navarra y European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism.