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The Caomhnú Árann project is working with 127 farmers on the three islands addressing some of the issues affecting the condition of the species-rich grassland habitats. The condition of these grasslands is dependent on adequate grazing levels that remove the existing vegetation, allowing wildflowers, sedges and grasses to flourish. Inadequate grazing leads to encroachment of scrub and an overall reduction in biodiversity. Inadequate water facilities is one factor limiting optimal grazing, so the project is working with the farmers on increasing the number of water tanks or rain catchers, which catch rain and store it allowing improved grazing. Another element of work the farmers are undertaking is to remove the encroaching scrub, followed by adequate grazing to favour the return of species-rich grasslands. Caomhnú Árann is trialling the use of remote sensing, aerial photos, and drone footage using standard photography and multispectral imaging, to see if such technology can help in determining different levels of grassland condition, and incorporating that into a simple outcome-based scoring system that could be used in future agri-environment programmes. Caomhnú Árann is a partnership programme involving the islands’ farmers, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DCHG), the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS), Teagasc and Fáilte Ireland, and is cofunded by the DAFM and the EU.
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