A lot of necessary discussion has taken place between the various stakeholders such as the Department of Agriculture, Farmers’ representatives and Advisory bodies on the subject but this report is the first to look at actual real commonage case studies and relate them the new CMP/GLAS scheme. Six case study areas were selected in counties Mayo, Galway, Sligo, Donegal Kerry and Wicklow which represent a range of different commonage management types in Ireland.
The most striking feature of the commonages selected for the study was the diversity of farm enterprises within each commonage. The engagement with the farmers at commonage level provided valuable data on the use made of the commonage in the different farm. The farmers’ opinions and the constraints under which their farming system operates supplements and reinforces the raw data. It gives it a context that assisted the members of the project team in coming to a better understanding of the issues at play.
This appreciation could not be provided by an analysis of any existing data sets alone. We believe that this level of engagement and the insight that comes from it would be essential to an CMP advisor involved in drawing up a commonage management plan. Our experience on these commonages leads us to believe that workable plans are not only possible but are actively desired by the farmers provided the CMP/GLAS scheme is structured in a reasonable way.