The Pearl Mussel Project aims to establish a voluntary results based agri-environmental programme for farmers in eligible areas. The overall aim of the programme is to promote farm management tailored to maintaining and improving the local environment with a view to securing the long term conservation of freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) in Ireland. This will be achieved by rewarding farmers for improving the quality of habitats on their lands. A catchment wide approach will be taken because activities on the lands have a direct influence on conditions in the rivers to which they drain. Maintaining natural habitats (such as wetlands, grasslands, and bogs) will enhance the conditions of freshwater pearl mussel rivers while also providing a range of wider environmental benefits. 

The Pearl Mussel Project builds on the work undertaken by the Kerry LIFE demonstration project in the Caragh and Blackwater river catchments in South Kerry from 2014 to 2019. The Kerry LIFE project developed and demonstrated sustainable land use management techniques and practices for local farmers and forest-owners in these two freshwater pearl mussel catchments. 

The Pearl Mussel Project programme is being designed by the project team with input from various stakeholders including; farmers, researchers, advisors and the Kerry LIFE project. It is foreseen that the scheme will be based around the following concepts:

  • Results based approach. This relates to the achievement of a defined environmental result, and the farmer has flexibility to choose the most appropriate management to achieve that result. Higher payments will be given for better results.
  • Flexible and adaptable. The programme will be adaptable to suit the needs of individual farmers in each catchment. Farmers will be afforded flexibility to manage their lands in a way that achieves the best environmental result for their local situation.
  • Five year duration. During the initial year (2018-19) the programme will be tested on a selection of pilot farms. Following this, the final programme will be open to eligible applicants to join on a phased basis for a period of three to five years. Acceptance onto the programme may be subject to certain criteria being met.  
  • Payment for results. There is likely to be varying levels of payment, where the level of payment reflects the environmental results achieved.
  • Payment for supporting actions. These are generally one-off investments to help deliver, or increase the quality, of environmental targets.

Examples of other results based programmes that are currently running include; the Hen Harrier Project, Burren Programme, and Caomhnú Árann (follow on from Aran LIFE). Further details on the Pearl Mussel Project agri-environmental programme will be published as they become available. Keep up to date on project development by completing this form.

The Pearl Mussel Project have developed a presentation with further details of the proposed results based farm programme to help protect freshwater pearl mussel in the top eight catchments in Ireland. A PDF of the presentation can be downloaded here.

You can download The Pearl Mussel Programme Information Booklet (2019) and Expression of Interest Form (PMPF1) as well as other programme publications here.

© Pearl Mussel Project Ltd 2018