Raptor LIFE

LIFE13 NAT/IE/000769

Start Date: 30/01/2015
End Date: 30/12/2019
Total Budget: 3,075,846 €
EU Contribution: 1,537,923 €

Coordinating Beneficiary: IRD Duhallow Limited
Legal Status: PNC
Address: James O’Keeffe Memorial Institute Newmarket Co.Cork, 000, Newmarket Co.Cork, Ireland
Contact Person: Maura WALSH
Email: eileen.linehan@irdduhallow.com
Tel: 02960633
Website: http://www.irdduhallow.com/

Connecting and Restoring habitats for Hen Harrier, Merlin, Atlantic Salmon and Brook Lamprey in Duhallow, Ireland


The Mullaghareirk Mountains, West Limerick Hills and Mount Eagle, and the Blackwater River, Natura 2000 network sites in south-west Ireland are important for numerous species, including hen harrier (Circus cyaneus), merlin (Falco columbarius), Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), brook lamprey (Lampetra planeri), freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) and European otter (Lutra lutra). The conservation status of these species has declined due to habitat degradation and loss. Hen harriers have declined by an average of 18.1% across designated Natura 2000 sites and a 2012 survey confirmed the loss of breeding hen harriers from 80% of territories that were occupied between 2008 and 2011. The fish species have also greatly declined due to increased nutrient enrichment, channel degradation, siltation and the impact of invasive species. There is a clear need to reverse these declines, and to improve the conservation status of habitats and species.


The RAPTOR LIFE project aims to restore habitats and improve conservation status for fish and birds, in particular the four main project target species of hen harrier, merlin, Atlantic salmon and brook lamprey, in the Mullaghareirk Mountains, West Limerick Hills and Mount Eagle, and the Blackwater River, Natura 2000 network sites. The project aims to do this through the development and demonstration of best management practices.

The projects main objectives are to: Restore the hen harrier population and enhance habitats for a range of Annex I and Annex II species by restoring habitat across a range of land use types through integrated actions in important Natura 2000 network sites; Increase the quantity and quality of habitat for the targeted species by linking three designated sites, through direct local participation, the involvement of local stakeholders and participation in work schemes; Develop management prescriptions for an important winter roosting area; and Bring together the communities living in Duhallow with wildlife experts to address the conflict between landowners and hen harriers.

Expected results: An improvement in merlin and other raptor nesting opportunities by the planting of 50 Scots pine trees; An enhancement of heather habitat by the flailing of 20 ha; An improvement of nesting opportunities for merlin by the placement of 30 nesting baskets; The development of a hen harrier friendly farm scheme with the local community over an area of 100 ha; The control of invasive species along 20 km of roadway in and close to the designated areas; The control of 126 km of invasive Himalayan balsam infested areas; The removal of 16 km of invasive Japanese knotweed from river banks; The removal of 5 ha of regenerating conifers; The treatment of 23 ha of riparian corridor through non-native coniferous plantation forests, specifically the removal of 8.3 ha of conifers and the coppicing of the remaining scrub; The fencing of 28 km of river banks followed by the provision of 20 cattle drinks and 10 otter holts; Documents and guides on management plans and habitat management for hen harrier, merlin and other raptors in upland farming areas; A document on managing invasive species in hen harrier habitat areas; A plan for an important winter roosting hen harrier site; Awareness raised amongst the community, school children and stakeholders on the importance of hen harrier and the Natura 2000 network; Monitoring data to show the effectiveness of project measures; and An improved understanding between the local farming community and hen harrier.

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