Job title: Bird Specialist - ACRES Donegal
Inishowen Farm Innovations in partnership with Inishowen Development Partnership have been contracted by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine to operate one of the eight Co-operation Projects that are being established as part of Ireland's CAP Strategic Plan. We are currently recruiting a bird specialist project officer to work as part of the project team across all areas of Donegal. The bird specialist will play a key role in delivering this new results-based agri-environmental scheme where farmers will be rewarded and incentivised to provide positive environmental outcomes throughout the high nature value landscapes of Donegal (see map below).
ACRES (Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme) is the new national agri-environment climate measure (AECM) that will be available to over 30,000 farmers throughout Ireland from 2023. Using a habitats-based approach, delivered through a mix of results-based and prescriptive actions, ACRES aims to achieve improved biodiversity, climate, air and water quality outcomes. Through a hybrid payment model farmers will be rewarded and incentivised to maintain and enhance the environmental condition of their farms. There are two approaches under the scheme:
• An ACRES General approach offering a range of measures for individual farmers (both targeted and general); and
• An ACRES Co-operation approach, available to farmers in eight high-priority geographical areas, who opt to undertake measures, as well as bespoke farm, and landscape actions.
Farmers participating in the Co-operation approach will have the assistance of a Local Co-operation Project (CP) Team, who will assist with the implementation of the scheme at the local level. Inishowen Farm Innovations in partnership with the Inishowen Development Partnership have been appointed to fulfil the roll of the local CP team for Donegal, referred to as the Donegal Co-operation Project.
The primary role of the Bird Specialist is to support farmers, farm advisors and the CP team in Donegal throughout the delivery of the ACRES scheme regarding all aspects of ornithology. The role will involve actively engaging with farmers to ensure that they have a clear understanding of the opportunities available to them through the scheme and to encourage their active participation with a view to achieving better environmental outcomes that are most relevant and beneficial to the environmental targets of the local area.
The post holder will be required to spend a high percentage of their time on sites and
attending meetings at offices, in County Donegal. Remaining time can be working from
home or the Acres Donegal office in Letterkenny.
The Bird Specialist will work within the Donegal CP area which entails an area stretching from southwest Donegal to Inishowen. The role will be largely field based with a hybrid working arrangement between home and the local project office depending on project needs.
Key duties and responsibilities of the Bird Specialist
The main purpose of the post shall be to provide specialist advice and input on all project requirements for the key farmland bird species in the Donegal CP area. These include
breeding waders, corncrake, chough, merlin and hen harrier.
The main duties will include:-
• Contribute to the development of the Local Action Plan for the Donegal CP.
• Development of variations of score cards tailored to the key bird species.
• Identification of appropriate score cards to be allocated to fields to be entered into Acres Co-operation scheme.
• Contribute to the development, screening processes and application of Non Productive Investments (NPIs) and Landscape Actions (LAs).
• Identification of appropriate NPIs and LAs for individual farm plans accepted into the Scheme.
• Setting up a monitoring programme and undertaking surveys for key bird species.
• Providing training to Advisors in use of score cards, NPIs and LAs.
• Assist with scoring of commonages in the CP area and advise on commonage related actions where required.
• Attend DAFM and other CP led meetings to contribute to the development of the ACRES Cooperation Scheme.
• Mapping work required to support implementation of the individual farm plans.
• Contribute to the development of software and database systems.
• Assist with requests from DAFM for reporting, audits etc.
• Continual liaison with the farming community in the respective local area.
• Additional tasks may be allocated from time to time to support the work of the Donegal ACRES Cooperation Project team.
• Any other duties as assigned by the project Manager.
Qualifications and Experience - Minimum Requirements
• A degree in agriculture, ecology, countryside management or related discipline is desirable however other non-degree qualifications may be considered for experienced candidates.
• Applicants should have a minimum of two years relevant work experience in the agriculture / ecology / agri-environmental sectors.
• Knowledge of farmland and upland habitats (peatland & grassland) and their indicator species.
• Excellent knowledge of the ecology, trends and threats of the key bird species as they occur in the Donegal CP area.
• Knowledge of the management requirements of these species, particularly related to their
• Occurrence on farmland.
• Direct experience of survey and monitoring of the key bird species.
• Good knowledge of agri-environment schemes in Ireland and knowledge of results
• Based schemes and use of score cards.
• Excellent bird identification skills.
• Experience of providing advice and training to farmers and/or advisors.
• Knowledge of GIS.
• A full clean driver's licence. You are required to own or have access to a vehicle which is insured for work purposes in order to carry out your duties.
Qualifications and Experience - Desirable
• Post-graduate qualification.
• Knowledge and experience relevant to biodiversity and wildlife legislation in Ireland.
• Understanding of the implications of conservation objectives for Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and the role farmers play regarding these.
• Knowledge and experience relevant to agriculture policy in Ireland.
• Experience in the preparation and monitoring of farm plans.
• Knowledge and awareness of agri-environmental schemes such as REPS, GLAS, REAP, Inishowen Uplands EIP, Curlew EIP etc.
• Experience of providing agri-environmental advice and support to farmers.
• Experience of using ESRI ArcGIS, QGIS and database management software would be an advantage.
• An ability to communicate in spoken Irish.
Skills and Characteristics
The successful candidate must demonstrate the following skills and characteristics
• Excellent communication skills.
• Self-motivated and have a proven ability to work under their own initiative.
• Have a positive, enthusiastic, pragmatic, solution driven, and flexible approach to work.
• A willingness to actively participate as part of a wider multidisciplinary team.
• An ability to manage their own workload, ensuring that work is carried out safely, on schedule, and to a high standard.
• Willingness to work in remote locations, sometimes lone working and in poor weather conditions.
• Ability to consider health and safety issues when working in the field and take appropriate action as necessary.
• Good computer skills, particularly in the use of Microsoft Office software.
Salary and Employment Details
The Bird Specialist will be employed on a full-time fixed term contract basis. The contract period is expected to run for 5 years, and may be extended annually there-after, subject to continuing funding and needs of the project. Opportunities for continued professional development and training are envisaged. Start date will be dependent on qualifications and experience.
Starting salary: €40,000 - €45,000 dependent upon experience
Expenses: Travel and subsistence expenses will be paid on a monthly basis.
Bird Specialist will be required to have their own transport.
- I.T/field equipment will be provided.
- Project Officers will have the opportunity to contribute to a pension
Annual leave: 20 days per annum.
How to Apply
Please find an application pack at
Email CV and application form and contact details of two referees by 5pm on the 20th March 2023 to:
ACRES - Donegal Co-operation Project
The closing date for applications is 5pm on the 20th March 2023 with interviews soon after.
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