Helping the hen harrier

 

Sir, – I refer to the article by Paddy Woodworth headlined “Can we keep the hen harrier dancing?” (Weekend Review, April 15th).

The hen harrier is indeed a magnificent bird and its importance as an indicator species is well understood.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has worked with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Birdwatch Ireland and many other stakeholders to develop its flagship agri-environment scheme, the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (Glas), which contains a specific measure to promote the maintenance and creation of suitable breeding and foraging habitats for the hen harrier on Irish farms. Glas is a voluntary agri-environment scheme, cofunded by the EU and the Irish exchequer as part of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme.

Over 2,600 farmers in Glas, with 38,000 hectares of land identified as key to the hen harrier by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, have undertaken a number of specific actions to manage and improve the habitat of the hen harrier.

In return, these farmers will be paid over €13 million per annum for the five-year contract period. In addition, the department is about to roll out a new locally-led hen harrier scheme.

This new approach is being introduced as a pilot project under the European Innovation Partnership measure of the Rural Development Programme and will involve farmers, agricultural advisers, environmental scientists and conservationists working together in the design and delivery of a new scheme to help farmers with larger tracts of hen harrier lands. – Yours, etc,

ULTAN WALDRON,

Press and

Information Officer,

Department of Agriculture,

Agriculture House,

Kildare Street,

Dublin 2.