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CAFRE Farm BioTool

CAFRE Farm BioTool

What is it?

This is a Biodiversity assessment tool which is designed for farms across Northern Ireland (NI) ranging from lowland to upland and grass to arable situations.

What is the tool for?

The tool provides a method to assess the intended or unintentional provision for nature on a farm. Biodiversity is not simple. To maintain or enhance the wildlife on a farm requires a range of habitats & resources to be provided throughout the seasons. Evaluation of decades of agri-environment schemes has shown success is rarely achieved with single actions or isolated habitat provision.

The tool will also provide some suggestions on how your farm could be developed further for biodiversity. Every farm is unique and provides a range of services to the NI community. The level of intensity of food production varies widely between farms due to enterprise, altitude, aspect, soil, nutrient & pesticide use. Different farms will have widely differing levels of ecosystem service provision, but all farms provide biodiversity services in some form.

What assessments does the tool give?

The tool looks at quantity & quality. It firstly assesses the % of the farm that provides some form of semi-natural habitat and secondly looks at what management practices occur, as a means of assessing quality of provision. Neither quantity nor quality on their own are adequate to impact biodiversity.

Who is the tool and my score for?

The tool is for your use and the results, hints and opportunities given are unique to your farm. We are not recording individuals’ results; however, we do want to provide ranges and averages to farms in similar situations, e.g. lowland dairy, mixed stock & arable, upland sheep.

Download, Do, Return

Please download the tool, complete, and return the spreadsheet to to enable us to automatically provide ranges and averages for different situations. We will not retain your spreadsheets under your name or DAERA Farm Business Number. You can ask questions through the email address. You can revisit your own saved download after another 1 or 2 years and make any changes to see how your results develop.

How good or bad will my score be?

Complete the assessment as quickly and honestly as you can. The lower your initial score, the easier it is to improve! Just as food production levels vary by over X10 between farms so will biodiversity services. The % semi-natural habitat on farm will range from 1 – 90% and the habitat management score will range from 10 – 90%.

CAFRE Farms% Habitat ScoreComments
Dairy and Crops Unit, Greenmount15Lowland including 30Ha of estate woodland
Beef and Sheep Unit, Greenmount7Lowland farm with mainly hedgerows and woodland habitats.
Beef and Arable Sub-Unit, Greenmount16The score was only 4% in 2020 before margins, agroforestry and winter stubble developments.
Hill Farm Centre, Glenwherry, Ballymena81Upland farm dominated by semi natural grassland & blanket bog
Table 1: Percentage habitat score for CAFRE Farms

If the BioTool opens in another web page, please click “Download File” along the top (see screenshot below), this will download and save the BioTool to your computer and allow you to complete the BioTool.

How to complete the tool:

  • Begin by downloading and saving the document to your computer. When you open the document, “Enable Content” or “Enable Editing” may appear at the top of the page, please select Enable for both, this will allow the document to work correctly.
  • If the BioTool opens in another web page, please click “Download File” along the top, this will download and save the BioTool to your computer and allow you to complete the BioTool.
  • Please read all hints and tips as you work through the BioTool, this will help you successfully complete the tool.
  • The tool is made of a series of questions, you will either select your answer from a drop-down list or you will enter your own information into an empty box.
  • To move between the questions, please use the right arrow key on the keyboard or scroll using the mouse. To navigate between the different pages, please click on the blue boxes.
  • On the % Habitat Score page you will enter information regarding your farm size, enterprises, hedgerow and boundary lengths and areas of habitats. This information will automatically be transferred to the appropriate areas throughout the tool, if you wish to make amendments to these figures, please return to the % habitat page to do so.

If you require assistance, please send an email to: