Third of Burren locals see farming as harmful
While almost two-thirds of non-farming residents of the Burren in Co Clare believe farming is beneficial to the environment, 36 per cent consider it "damaging".
The Perceptions of non-farming Burren Residents on the role and significance of Burren Farming, carried out by the Rural Economy Research Centre, Teagasc and the Department of Agribusiness, UCD, said 10 per cent of those surveyed considered farming "very damaging".
"The most frequently cited were damage to archaeological sites, pollution to the waterways, damage to wildlife habitats, damage to stone walls and adverse impacts on the landscape," said the research findings.
However, those who believed farming was beneficial cited the building of stone walls which helped to create the unique landscape and made the area more aesthetically pleasing.
The survey found that 48 per cent viewed the Department of the Environment as the primary custodian of the Burren landscape, followed by the Department of Agriculture and Food, at 38 per cent, Dúchas (26 per cent) and the Heritage Council (19 per cent).
When asked to suggest ways in which the environment and visual landscape could be improved, the largest grouping, 34 per cent, suggested reducing the intensity of farming, but almost 4 per cent said the intensity of farming should be increased.
Twenty-four per cent wanted a higher priority to be given to schemes such as the Rural Environment Protection Scheme, 20 per cent wanted more farm regulation and 14 per cent wanted Dúchas to manage more Burren land.
Most of those surveyed (69 per cent) claimed to have a good understanding of the problems facing Burren farmers, 58 per cent believing inadequate income was the most pressing problem. Only 56 per cent said they made recreational use of the Burren either a few times a year, rarely or never. Of those who did, 83 per cent said they never encountered any problems with farmers.