Farming conservation summit looks to save unique ecosystems

Ireland’s first-ever international summit on farming conservation will bid to save the future of unique ecosystems like the Burren, it was claimed today.

The four-day conference will take place in the heart of the limestone-clad region in Co Clare next month.

Guest speakers at the ’Farming for Conservation – Supporting the Future’ event will include Environment and Heritage Minister John Gormley and European experts.

The summit is organised by The Burren Life Project (BLP), which was established in 2005 to develop a new model for sustainable agriculture in the Burren region.

The Burren spans 160 square kilometres and nurtures flora and fauna species found in Arctic, Mediterranean and Alpine regions.

Environmentalists have called for the area to be designated a Unesco World Heritage Site like Newgrange in Co Meath and the Giant’s Causeway in Co Antrim.

The February 24-27 conference in Ennistymon will feature presentations from other famous limestone regions across Europe including the Alvars of Sweden, the Causse in France and the Yorkshire Dales in Britain.

The BLP is supported by the National Parks and Wildlife Service in partnership with Teagasc and Burren IFA.

BLP manager Dr Brendan Dunford said: “There is a moral and legal obligation on all of us to do whatever is necessary to protect areas like the Burren for future generations.

“This is a defining moment for areas like the Burren. Decisions which now have to be made will determine whether the Burren will be managed and developed for the benefit of all, or whether this special resource is allowed to be squandered.”

Junior Environment and Heritage minister and Burren TD, Tony Killeen said today: “The conference is an important step in developing a model to support conservation farming practices, protect habitats and ensure that farmers are supported to continue to farm.”

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