Design of hen harrier programme aided by 12 development farms

The design of a programme under the Hen Harrier Scheme is currently being aided by 12 development farms.

These development farms have reportedly been selected across the Special Protection Areas (SPAs) network.

Earlier this year, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine selected a team to run the Hen Harrier Scheme. This appointment followed a tender process ran by the department, which closed at the end of January.

The department awarded the administration of the new pilot Locally-Led Agri-Environment Scheme (LLAES) to the Hen Harrier Project Ltd.

The development farms helping with the design of the programme are representative of their areas, according to the project team.

Farmers are working with the project team to design a programme that will work for farmers on the ground, while enhancing habitats and conditions for the hen harrier.

The programme is expected to be targeted specifically at farmers with land in Slieve Beagh, Slieve Bloom Mountains, Slieve Felim to Silvermines Mountains and around the Slieve Aughty Mountains SPAs.

It is also set to encompass land from Stack’s to Mullaghereirk Mountains, the West Limerick Hills and Mount Eagle, as well as Mullaghanish to the Musheramore Mountains SPAs.

The Hen Harrier Project Ltd aims to consist of a team of experienced conservationists, agricultural advisors and environmental scientists – in conjunction with Brendan O’Gorman (Accountants) and the Golden Eagle Trust Ltd.

It hopes to deliver a range of environmental benefits on marginal and upland farms. The project team is expected to build “strong partnerships” between farmers and management agencies in order to deliver ecosystems that benefit local biodiversity and communities.

The Hen Harrier Project Ltd will be based in Oranmore, Co. Galway. Wider consultation with farmers and local stakeholders will commence shortly, the project team said.

The programme design and development phase is set to be complete by September of this year – with the first applicants expected shortly after that. The Hen Harrier Project Ltd aims to follow the blueprint of the successful Burren Programme.