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  • Publication
    An assessment of commonage groups and the knowledge transfer needs of upland farmers
    (University College Dublin. School of Agriculture and Food Science, 2022) ;
    Commonages represent ~7% of Agricultural land in Ireland. As predominantly high nature value areas these are of particular interest for preservation and restoration works to encourage biodiversity. However as commonly managed areas this presents a management issue as all parties commonly farming these lands need to work collectively together to make a positive environmental impact. The SUAS project brings together groups of farmers together on these commonages to discuss and address the issues as per each individual commonage. Together proposals are made to address the issues and produce results. In the pursuit of this collective action there is a potential hurdle in achieving harmonised collaboration due to the personal and cultural differences in participants. This study draws on the experiences of SUAS in order to determine key factors and lessons which aid and enhance the collaboration process so that future collaborative projects of a similar nature in Ireland or further afield can share in these lessons. As discovered from the study, key aspects to delivering successful collaboration include: (1) Farmer involvement in all aspects of the project from the beginning. (2) The input of an external facilitator and project manager with distinctly separate roles. (3) Project Manager traits including open and effective communication skills, facilitation and conflict resolution skills, locally knowledgeable, local to the vicinity, an effective and fair leader. Additionally, the study investigated knowledge transfer needs for the scale up of similar projects in Ireland. Lessons include: (1) Farmers require more upland specific research in order to address both production and environmental issues. (2) New information derived from this research is likely to be best received through traditional information sources such as newspapers as opposed to more innovative digital methods. (3) Farmers wish to have the development of future upland agri-environment schemes carried out in a manner that broadly resembles a locally led bottom up approach to their design and implementation.