The Pearl Mussel Project aims to establish a voluntary results based agri-environmental scheme 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 programme is being designed by the project team with input from various stakeholders including; farmers, researchers, and advisors. 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 scheme will be tested on a selection of pilot farms. Following this, the final scheme will be open to eligible applicants to join on a phased basis for a period of 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 actions. Complementary actions are once-off investments to help deliver, or increase the quality, of environmental targets. These payments are referred to as Non Productive Investments (NPIs).

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

© Pearl Mussel Project Ltd 2018