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  • Writer's picturePippa Hackett

€25 million Breeding Waders EIP Launched in Offaly

Ministers launch EIP
Ministers Noonan, McConalogue and Hackett

Today, together with my Ministerial Colleagues, Charlie McConalogue and Malcolm Noonan, I was delighted to launch a landmark new project for Ireland’s most vulnerable group of birds, breeding waders, at Shannon Harbour.

The €25 million Breeding Waders EIP is funded jointly by the National Parks and Wildlife Service at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, under the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) Agri Programme.

The project aims to secure existing wader populations at key sites, and to support population recovery through wider landscape management and policy development. Populations of breeding waders, which include Curlew, Dunlin, Lapwing, and Golden Plover, among others, have declined by as much as 98% in recent decades in the Irish countryside. 

European Innovation Partnership (EIP) projects are locally-led schemes which are designed and implemented by collaborative groups involving farmers, scientists, ecologists and other experts to deliver specific goals. Earlier this year, a consortium led by Irish Rural Link was selected as the Operational Group lead to deliver the Breeding Waders EIP.

“As Minister with responsibility for both EIPs and biodiversity, I am hugely excited to be here in Shannon Harbour in County Offaly this morning for the launch of the Breeding Waders EIP. We know how successful the locally led EIP model can be, with farmers coming together backed by expert advice to take targeted actions for biodiversity enhancement and to bring about meaningful landscape change. We are supporting the Breeding Waders EIP with a €25 million budget and a world class project team, and I am really looking forward to following its progress over the coming years and, all going well, seeing much healthier breeding wader numbers in the Shannon Callows and beyond.”

Speaking at the launch, Minister McConalogue said:

“This important initiative under Ireland’s 2023-2027 CAP Strategic Plan, and the funding of €25 million provided, is proof of the Government’s commitment to protect the wader populations that are currently present at important locations and to promote population recovery through broader landscape management and evidence-based policy development. The success of this EIP will help secure the future of breeding waders, as it will provide support to farmers that are willing to carry out habitat enhancements above and beyond regulatory standards.”

Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan T.D, said:

“This EIP is a lifeboat that carries our hopes for breeding wader conservation in Ireland. For many years, the NPWS and DAFM have worked together to conserve Breeding Wader populations, generating valuable expertise and knowledge on what is required to maintain and support these beautiful birds. This new approach means that this work will now be expanded, and for the first time, appropriately funded to tackle the decline of overall populations and ranges.”

Seamus Boland, CEO of Irish Rural Link, representing the Operational Group, added:

“Irish Rural Link is delighted to be leading on this new and exciting project. This EIP-Agri project presents a unique opportunity for farmers, rural communities and stakeholders to work with the project team and partners in driving conservation efforts for Breeding Waders.”

The project involves a total investment of €25 million, of which NPWS is providing an investment of €17.5 million, with an investment of €7.5 million from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The NPWS has also committed to an additional strategic fund of €5 million for breeding waders. 

  • The Breeding Waders EIP initiative is co-funded by the European Commission and the Irish Government under the CAP Strategic Plan. In this case, both the National Parks & Wildlife Service and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will fund agri-environmental actions, while the National Parks and Wildlife Service will also fund the Operational Group’s administrative costs.

  • The Breeding Waders EIP Operational Group includes: Irish Rural Link in partnership with Michael Martyn Agri-Environment, Irish Wildlife Services, Hen Harrier Project, Atlantic Technological University, University College Dublin, Zoological Society of Ireland and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.


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