Some 1,500 farmers will be receiving approximately €3m in payments between now and the end of the year under the Hen Harrier Programme, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has announced.
The payments come as the Hen Harrier monitoring report for 2019 was published, which found there was a 35% increase on the 2017 figure in the number of young hen harriers fledged.
The 81 chicks fledged this year is the highest such number in 14 years, with the Department saying that the Hen Harrier project has contributed to this success.
This project is a locally led, locally designed and locally administered scheme, funded under the Department’s Rural Development Programme. Hen Harrier monitoring was carried out by the Golden Eagle Trust working with the hen harrier project team.
The report was presented to Minister Creed by the hen harrier project manager, Fergal Monaghan, who also updated on the progress of the project.
Minister Creed said: “I was delighted to see the increase in fledged hen harrier chicks this year. The considerable investment by my Department in the hen harrier project, and particularly the actions of the 1,524 participating farmers, have contributed to this achievement.
“Together, these participants manage over 37,000ha across all six special protection areas and make a huge contribution to this biodiversity priority. Their actions in providing improved quality habitat for the birds have led to an improvement in the breeding success of the hen harrier population.
Their actions in providing improved quality habitat for the birds have led to an improvement in the breeding success
“The overall situation is still critical and there is no room for complacency, but we are moving in the right direction,” he said.
Fergal Monaghan said that it has been a very productive year for hen harriers.
“A total of 81 chicks left the nest in 2019, up 35% on the number recorded in 2017 when the Hen Harrier project commenced, and the highest figure recorded since the first SPA survey in 2005,” he said.
Burren Programme and Pearl Mussel Project
Minister Creed also confirmed that payments to 328 farmer participants in the Burren Programme have already begun and will continue on a weekly basis.
It is expected that more than €700,000 will be paid to participating farmers in the form of habitat-based payments before the end of the year.
Payment to the Pearl Mussel Project participants will also commence shortly and it is expected that over €900,000 will be paid to 342 participants by the end of 2019.
“These locally led projects are one of the real success stories of our Rural Development Programme and I congratulate all the projects on their ongoing good work.
“I would encourage all stakeholders to engage in the consultation process currently under way to prepare for the next Common Agricultural Policy, and help shape the future of locally led schemes and agri-environment policy,” Minister Creed said.
Hen Harrier scheme to accept all applicants
Over one in 10 farmers exit schemes
In pictures: Burren winterage community cattle drive
€10m pearl mussel scheme opens