SUAS Project announces list of speakers for a special conference

The SUAS Project has announced the full list of speakers for a special conference being hosted on Thursday, November the 17th of November in the Glenview Hotel in county Wicklow to coincide with the successful conclusion of the five-year EIP-AGRI Project. 

The packed event programme, which includes a keynote presentation from Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, Pippa Hackett, will explore the key findings of the five-year project with a host of guest speakers, panel discussions and a guided field trip to see the innovative work currently being undertaken across the Wicklow and Dublin Uplands.

Along with presentations from the project team, international guest speakers include Professors Julia Aglionby and Davy McCraken; both renowned for their research and expertise on the use and management of the UK’s extensive upland regions. Also joining them on the stage is the consultant ecologist Faith Wilson, who has worked extensively with the SUAS Project. The event organisers are especially excited to announce that Irish-based journalist and well-known television presenter Ella McSweeney will be filling the role of Host and Guest Chair of the event.

Speaking at the recent launch of the event, coordinator for Wicklow Uplands Council, Brian Dunne shared;

“We are delighted to be able to host this conference and to share the substantial knowledge and learnings gained by all involved with the project to a much wider audience. The event programme will explore and discuss a range of topics with some of the leading speakers in their field joining us for this special occasion and we very much look forward to welcoming everyone interested in attending”.

Launched in 2018 by Wicklow Uplands Council, the ambitious project was established to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to the environmental and economic challenges facing hill-farmers in the Wicklow and Dublin uplands.

Having successfully received a funding allocation of €1.95M in the first round of the European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural productivity and Sustainability (EIP-AGRI), the five-year project has grown to include 74 hill-farmers across 25 locations throughout the Wicklow and Dublin Uplands.

Shaping the landscape by incentivising hill farmers to improve upland habitats, there is currently over 7,500 hectares, much of which is designated Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), where initiatives such as peat and vegetation restoration, grazing management, tree planting, bracken control and the removal of invasive tree species are taking place.

One of the unique attributes to the project is its work with commonage groups, assisting in establishing them into a formal structure to participate as a collective group. Once formed, the groups themselves have undertaken habit actions as part of an agreed multi-year management plan that is focussed on the sustainable usage of the land and to improve its overall biodiversity.

Speaking about what has been observed over the last five years, Project Manager of the SUAS Project, Declan Byrne shared;

“By working collaboratively with hill-farmers across a range of different locations, we have been able to deliver meaningful habitat actions that have already begun to positively impact the sensitive biodiversity found in the uplands”.

“We have found that with appropriate grazing practices and the delivery of various vegetation management initiatives, that projects such as SUAS offer great insights to how we should be systematically managing our uplands with all of the stakeholders to ensure they remain healthy into the future”.

The conference coincides with the project’s conclusion at the end of December 2022 and will provide an overview of its extensive activities as well as providing detailed discussion on its outcomes and learnings. As part of the conference gathering, a field trip to a nearby upland farm participating in the project is open to everyone to attend on the afternoon beforehand, Wednesday the 16th.

Discussing what attendees should expect on the day, Mr Dunne shared;

“The SUAS conference provides the perfect opportunity to share and discuss what has been observed over the last five-years and we invite anyone with an interest in how our uplands are managed, whether it be from a farming, environmental or community viewpoint to attend”.

Attendance is complimentary, however advance registration is required, which can be done by visiting the Wicklow Uplands Council website: www.wicklowuplands.ie Anyone interested in attending the field trip to the upland farm is requested to email bdunne@wicklowuplands.ie for further details.

Ireland’s European Innovation Partnership (EIP) projects are funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DAFM) under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.   

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