The Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, has today announced the approval by the European Commission of a new EU LIFE project, LIFE On Machair, worth over €5.7 million in EU funding.

With a total budget of €7.4m, the project seeks to improve the conservation condition of Ireland’s machair habitats and the ecological conditions for the species it supports by working with local farming communities.

 Machair is a coastal habitat characterised by a plain of lime-rich, wind-blown sand that is unique to the north and west of Ireland and Scotlan.

Machair ecosystems provide an important refuge for pollinators and threatened breeding wader bird species, such as Dunlin, Lapwing and Redshank. 

Farming and farmers are central to the project in the role that they can play in protecting and restoring machair systems.

It will focus on nine Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and 4 Special Protection Areas in counties Donegal, Mayo and Galway. A voluntary Results Based Payment Scheme (RBPS) will be linked to the quality of the habitat, putting the landowner, their skills, expertise and knowledge of their land central to the development of this project.