Map of UK Conservation Grazing Schemes

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GAP Northern Ireland (GAPNI)

Location:Northern Ireland

Habitats:Various types of habitat

Livestock:Various breeds and types of livestock

In brief:Northern Irish arm of GAP UK aiming to establish a conservation grazing scheme in Northern Ireland

Contact:Andrew Upton



In 2006 the GAPNI steering group was established and held it's inaugral meeting, inlcuding representatives from FWAG, DARD, EHS, Ulster Wildlife Trust, conservation graziers and others.  In 2006 Andrew Upton (Ulster Wildlife Trust) were employed for 6 months by RSWT to produce a development plan for GAPNI.  
Consultation identified around 5200 ha (45 sites) in Northern Ireland that currently include conservation grazing as part of an ongoing management regime. However, many sites in Northern Ireland, inlcuding a significant number of ASSIs, are currently in unfavourable condition as a result of a lack of grazing or undergrazing, resulting in rank vegetation becoming dominant and/or scrub encroachment. 

However it's not all bad news!  In 2006 the Irish Lady's Tresses orchid was found at Ecos, one of eight Ulster Wildlife Trust reserves which include conservation grazing as part of the site management.  The Irish Lady's Tresses is a plant of wet marshy ground and often occurs on wet, grazed meadows..  It seems likely that the flower has appeared as a result of the site being grazed, with the grazing and disturbance controlling taller and more competitive species and creating the right conditions for the orchid to thrive.

GAPNI aims to tackle the constraints to conservation grazing in Northern Ireland by maintaining effective lines of communication between the farming and conservation sectors, making information available on conservation grazing that is specific to the Northern Irish context, developing a Local Grazing Scheme to help facilitate conservation grazing, identifying financial incentives for conservation graziers and more.  An copy of the executive summary of the GAPNI Development Plan is available here.

Click here for an article entitled 'Conservation Grazing in Northern Ireland' written by Andrew Upton and Ulster Wildlife Trust containing furthe rifnormation on GAPNI and it's background.  This article was originally published in The Irish Hare.