Date: 23 Nov 2021 The Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, has announced the approval by the European Commission of a new EU LIFE project, LIFE On Machair, worth over €5.7 million in EU funding. Machair is a coastal habitat distinguished by a plain of lime-rich, wind-blown sand that is unique to the north and west of Ireland and Scotland. The typical flower-rich vegetation of machair is traditionally maintained through low-intensity livestock grazing, however it is susceptible to pressures from recreational activities and over grazing. Machair ecosystems provide an important refuge for pollinators and threatened breeding wader bird species, such as Dunlin, Lapwing and Redshank. Post-Brexit, the entire EU land cover of the habitat occurs in Ireland, meaning the conservation of machair in Ireland is of significance on a European scale. With a total budget of €7.4m (of which €5.7m million is EU LIFE Programme funding), the project aims to improve the conservation condition of Ireland’s machair habitats and the ecological conditions for the species it supports by working positively with local farming communities. It will focus on nine Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and 4 Special Protection Areas in counties Donegal, Mayo and Galway. Cooperation with project partners namely, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Teagasc and Fáilte Ireland, the LIFE On Machair project will strive to build on the successes of locally adapted programmes, including European Innovation Partnerships (EIP), in assisting farmers and other stakeholders to create resilience within rural communities in the light of our biodiversity and climate crises. A voluntary Results Based Payment Scheme (RBPS) will be linked to the quality of the habitat, placing the landowner and their skills, expertise and knowledge of their land central to the development of this project. Read more HERE.