Marking the start of National Biodiversity Week, Minister Pippa Hackett has acknowledged the contribution of farmers in maintaining biodiversity on their land.
“Hundreds of farmers are participating in biodiversity schemes across the country and being paid, on a results basis, for their efforts,” Minister Hackett said.
In recent days, the Minister visited a high nature value farm in the Slieve Bloom mountains, which is part of the Hen Harrier project and addressed a webinar showcasing three other farmer biodiversity projects – the Biodiversity Regeneration in a Dairying Environment (BRIDE), the MacGillycuddy Reeks project and the Pearl Mussel Project.
All four projects – and many others – are supported by Minister Hackett’s Department through funding under the EU’s Rural Development Programme. Farmers participating in the results-based project receive payments for delivering sustainable benefits for biodiversity.
After a visit to the Hen Harrier project on the high nature farm of George and Hazel McBryde, near Kinnitty, Co. Offaly, Minister Hackett said:
“The hen harrier is not just a beautiful bird of prey, it is also an indicator species of a healthy ecosystem. There are six confirmed breeding pairs in this area, and possibly more. Of course, we didn’t see any because they are sitting on their nests and we were very careful not to disturb them but I’m hoping to return later in the summer to see them in flight.
“The hen harrier is a rare, ground nesting bird and for them to nest, breed, hunt, and rear their chicks the land needs to be managed is a sustainable way. That’s why farmers, like George and Hazel, are so important, and I look forward to being able to continue to support this wonderful work.”
Fergal Monaghan, Hen Harrier Project Manager commented: “We are delighted to have Minister Hackett here in the Slieve Blooms Special Protection Area. This region supports one of the largest Hen Harrier populations in the country. The birds that nest and rear their chicks here depend on the habitats that farmers maintain. These farmland habitats do more than just support Hen Harriers, they benefit other wildlife, store Carbon, and improve water quality, all important public goods delivered through Agriculture.”
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