To continue celebrating National Biodiversity Week, the SUAS Pilot Project is delighted to share the wonderful news that one of the commonage groups formed under the Project, Granamore Commonage, has been nominated for a Farming For Nature Award. The welcome news from the national Farming for Nature initiative, which acknowledges farmers working to enhance the natural health of our countryside, is actually one of two nominations related to Wicklow Uplands Council – with the second nomination being revealed over the weekend.
The Granamore Commonage Group consists of 10 farmers who farm commonage lands within the Wicklow Mountains National Park on the western side of the county. The commonage itself comprises 1132 acres, with the group members involved with sheep farming activities. The group was formed as part of their participation in the SUAS EIP Project, with the aim of coming together to collectively improve the commonage that they manage. As part of their participation in SUAS, a sustainable management plan for the location was developed with guidance from ecologist Faith Wilson, followed by the farmers undertaking numerous actions to protect and enhance the biodiversity on the land.
Collectively, they have been very busy, with many positive and meaningful changes to the biodiversity and upland habitats now evident. Heather and gorse are being managed manually with bush cutters, mineral licks are used to encourage the sheep into areas of dense heather where they trample the thick heather thus allowing space for other vegetation to grow. Bog roads on the hill have been restored and historic grazing management practices have been altered to protect upland habitats.
Under a wider initiative being delivered across various locations in the Wicklow and Dublin Uplands, the group have planted a considerable number of native trees to assist stabilising stream banks, therefore reducing erosion and runoff, and protecting water sources through the naturally occurring filtration process, and the overall improvement of biodiversity and the creation of a mosaic of habitats. Their management plan for 2022 includes fencing off exclusion zones in sensitive areas as part of a trial with the NPWS, and they are currently building timber dams to block some eroding upland gullies and to improve the water table, soil conditions and the natural upland vegetation..
Through their Involvement in the 5 year project, the participating farmers have gained a greater appreciation for the land they manage, with great consideration now given to its biodiversity, water quality, carbon storage and the upland habitats and wildlife found in the area. Their work, along with all of the participating hill-farmers, continues to inspire and inform how sustainable management practices to our great natural assets – the uplands – can be achieved by working collectively and with their biodiversity health in mind.
The Council would like to congratulate all involved with the SUAS Project, and especially the Granamore Commonage Group, with the news that their tremendous work has been formally recognised with this nomination.
For more information and indeed to vote for the Granamore Commonage Group once it opens, please click HERE.
Photos featured in this post were taken during an Open Day event hosted on Granamore Commons by the SUAS Project and the Granamore Commonage Group for Heritage Week 2019.