Cúlra Créafóige - The Challenge
While this area has always been predominantly agricultural, recent developments in national and EU policy have seen a trend towards agricultural specialization – namely single-enterprise cattle or sheep operations. Earning a living from these markets alone when faced with small farm sizes and challenging soil and weather conditions is difficult and has led to many young adults leaving the region in search of employment. Through these actions, many lands in the parish have been left to grow wild.
While this return of the land to nature can be beneficial for some wildlife, others – which are currently experiencing dangerous declines in population – are utterly dependent upon the habitat created through cultivation. Unfortunately, a 2017 survey carried out on the lands in one of the local SPA’s found less than 1% of the land was under cultivation. Less than 1%!
Now, as what farms we still have are dependent upon just one or two markets, we are seeing a developing lack of resilience needed to survive shifting markets, climate change, pandemics, and emerging carbon restrictions.