Room for up to 2,000 farmers to take part in Hen Harrier Scheme

The Department of Agriculture is looking to recruit dedicated management teams to help design and deliver the Hen Harrier and Freshwater Pearl Mussel Schemes.

A formal Request for Tenders has been published by his Department and it intends to appoint the project teams on foot of this before end of year.

Both projects will form part of the Department’s new ‘Locally-Led’ initiative, a measure proposed by Ireland under the Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020 and delivered through the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) framework.

While formal approval for the new measure is still awaited from the EU, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed said that he was moving ahead with both projects now to ensure that the schemes would be open to farmers in 2017.

“Support for EIP Locally Led Hen Harrier Project is aimed at targeting the conservation of this important bird in six specific core target areas which contain about 45% of the national hen harrier population.”

This scheme will target up to 2,000 participants over the target areas.

“Similarly the Freshwater Pearl Mussel Project will be confined to eight catchments containing approximately 80% of the national population and will target up to 800 participants.

“An overall budget of €35m is being made available to fund these projects. Both are being designed and delivered in close collaboration with the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.”

Minister Creed said that this is a completely new way of responding to what are, by any standards, major environmental challenges and choosing the right partners is important for his Department.

“We want to work with management teams composed of key people who are in the best position to realise the goals of both projects, and who can build local ownership on the ground.”

The EIP Locally Led model will encourage a bottom-up design of the schemes by means of:

  • An array of stakeholders which include farmers, advisors, administrators, researchers, ecologists, NGOs, government departments and agencies.
  • Bespoke locally-tailored solutions to problems.
  • Strong focus on networking and collaboration to achieve objectives.
  • Dissemination and cross-learning of sustainable best practices.
  • Harnessing community involvement, ownership and goodwill in order to achieve mutual benefits and RDP objectives.