Changes in the Management of the Irish Uplands: A Case-Study from the Iveragh Peninsula

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Changes in the Management of the Irish Uplands: A Case-Study from the Iveragh Peninsula

European upland landscapes are of high natural and cultural value. In this paper we present a case study, set in the Irish uplands. We highlight the complex links between ecology, farming systems, the policy environment and the local socioeconomic and cultural context. Given the current low economic returns from hill sheep farming, pluriactivity and multifunctionalism are increasingly necessary farm household coping strategies. We argue that the part-time farming model has land use management and ecological implications for the uplands. Overall we find that within the social-ecological system studied, farming households are adjusting to changing circumstances rather than exiting the sector en mass. We conclude that effective policies for the conservation and management of the uplands, requires a cross-sectoral approach that can take account not only of environmental criteria, but also land managers socio-economic objectives.

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