Farmers urged to attend important meadows meeting


FARMERS, particularly young farmers, in the Derrygonnelly and west Fermanagh are being urged to attend a meeting at the Tir Navar Centre next week about an exciting project that could ensure a bright future of farming in the area.
The meeting will be hosted by Ulster Wildlife and will focus on the next stage of the highly successful Save Our Magnificent Meadows project, which is aimed at protecting the special species rich grasslands the west of the county is famous for.
Conor McKinney from Ulster Wildlife, who is designing the next phase of the Magnificent Meadows project, said west Fermanagh’s grasslands are famous in Europe for their rich biodiversity, with 40 species per square metre. Indeed, he said, thanks to the geography and the sympathetic methods of local farmers, Derrygonnelly and the surrounding areas were “Ireland’s Amazon.”
Mr McKinney meeting was aimed at ascertaining what issue the local farming community were facing, and to see how Ulster Wildlife could help them address these issues. Such as scrub encroachment, for example.
“It might be a farmer who is getting a little bit elderly who may not have either the finances or the wherewithal to manage the scrub,” he said.
“What’s going to happen then the scrub’s going to move into the field and he’s going to get less grant for that field. It gives him less incentive. One of the things we’re proposing, for example, is we can come in and do the scrub control for the farmer. That opens it up again and allows him to access payments and he can continue farming that site again.
“It’s also about any other issues they’re facing, about trying to find their ideas for how it is we can encourage younger farmers to farm more sympathetically for the environment, about how we can address that divide that’s growing between farms that are becoming abandoned.”
Liam Jones from the Tir Navar Centre, who coordinated the meeting along with Ulster Wildlife, said the project could help attract visitors to the area as well as providing an additional source of income for local farmers.
“Because of the special species that are growing in the Derrygonnelly area and now with the way grants and subsidies have been cut, hopefully Ulster Wildlife can step in to bridge the gap, to help out with different subsidies or investments in the future with the land,” he said.
Mr Jones said he expected a good crowd at the meeting, which takes place at 8pm this Tuesday, February 13, and will include refreshments. Mr McKinney encouraged as many local farmers, particular young farmers, to attend.

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