BirdWatch Ireland, An Taisce and the Environmental Pillar said they are concerned with the actions listed on the draft hen harrier threat response plan (HHTRP).

The groups said they welcome that the draft HHTRP appropriately identifies the pressures that have brought about the significant population declines in the hen harrier.

However, they said the HHTRP does not reflect the gravity of the current situation with regard to the bird and that its actions are too vague.

BirdWatch Ireland added that the plan does not sufficiently target protecting the hen harrier from forestry and wind energy and it fails to outline a clear plan to restore the species' habitat.


The groups are urging the public to make a submission to the draft HHTRP public consultation before 5pm on 20 February.

Raptor conservation officer at BirdWatch Ireland John Lusby said: “The draft HHTRP has been in development for more than 10 years, during which time the hen harrier population has declined by one third.

"We are running out of time and the draft plan in its current form does not reflect that urgency nor is it sufficiently targeted to implement the actions needed.

“We need more from the HHTRP, otherwise we are facing the very real and shameful prospect of losing the hen harrier within our lifetimes,” he said.

What the plan contains

The draft plan contains 59 actions aimed at securing the future of the hen harrier in Ireland.

Actions include regular hen harrier surveys, site-specific conservation objectives for hen harrier SPAs, publishing a new habitat map for Ireland if required, monitoring the effectiveness of new rules around landscape features in CAP and for the rate of change of hen harrier breeding habitat caused by “intensification of farming and scrub removal” in non-designated regionally important breeding areas to be estimated.

The continuation of incentives to support areas where habitat is suitable for hen harriers is also included as an action.