Farmers are set to share a €500,000 bonus payment in recognition of their efforts to protect hen harrier.
In the last 20 years the hen harrier has experienced a sharp decline with only an estimated 100 to 150 left in Ireland, according to a National Parks and Wildlife Service survey.
The Hen Harrier Programme is a conservation initiative which focuses on six Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and appears to be halting the decline.
Funded by the Department of Agriculture, the five-year €25m Hen Harrier Programme is the largest species-specific project of its kind in Europe.
Now the hen harrier has had its most successful breeding season in 14 years and a 34 per cent increase since 2017. Last year 56 pairs successfully produced 81 chicks in the participating SPAs.
Project manager Fergal Monaghan says the increased breeding rates are a huge boost to the threatened species.
“This is fantastic news for the hen harrier and all the farmers who have bought into the project. What’s good for hen harriers is good for other bird species. It’s good for plants, insects and small mammals.
“It’s good for landscape and it has cultural and social benefits for the community.”