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A lapwing. BirdWatch Ireland

€17 million needed to save Ireland’s most threatened birds says BirdWatch Ireland

The organisation says that several ground nesting birds are at risk of extinction without funding for conservation schemes.

BIRDWATCH IRELAND HAS written to government ministers calling for them to find €17 million for a national scheme to support farmers to save threatened farmland birds.

The conservation organisation has estimated that €30 million is needed to fund agri-environmental schemes and other key measures which support farmers to save curlew,  lapwing and other birds from extinction.

To date it has only secured €13 million in Ireland’s Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) Strategic Plan, split between the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

The organisation has written to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, Pippa Hackett and Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan.

Oonagh Duggan, Head of Advocacy at Birdwatch Ireland said: “The budget for farming in the next CAP is €9.8 billion  yet a mere €6 million of this has been allocated to pay farmers to protect and restore farmland for curlew and other breeding waders, the most threatened of our farmland bird species.

“This is not even one-sixth of a percentage point of the available funds while €1.25 billion is allocated to the Area for Natural Constraints scheme yet it has no linkage with environmental action. And the €1.5 billion ecoscheme is very weak on environmental ambition”.

“We call on Ministers McConalogue, Noonan and Hackett to work together to secure the additional €17 million needed to ensure a robust national breeding wader scheme is in the next CAP. We know that conservation actions work, but political will and investment is urgently needed to fund these actions before it is too late.”

Ireland was recently allocated a €9.8 billion budget for its CAP by the European Commission for environmental works.

However, an analysis from BirdWatch Ireland claims that only 7% of the overall budget will result in effective action for the environment, with the rest going to fund measures which they believe are not targeted enough to secure environmental improvements.

Ireland’s lapwing, like the curlew and other ground-nesting waders, have been in decline for several years.

Their breeding range in Ireland has halved and at the flatlands along the Shannon, once a stronghold, numbers are down by more than 80% according to the Irish Times.

The northern lapwing was declared Ireland’s national bird by a committee of the Irish Wildlife Conservancy in 1990.

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