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  • Writer's picturePippa Hackett

Visit to Hen Harrier Project in Slieve Blooms Offaly

Updated: Jun 26, 2021

Minister Pippa Hackett has marked National Biodiversity Week by seeing first-hand what is necessary for the protected Hen Harrier to flourish in the Slieve Bloom mountains.

After a visit to the high nature farm of George and Hazel McBryde, near Kinnitty, Minister Hackett said:

“The hen harrier is not just a beautiful bird of prey, it is also an indicator species of a healthy ecosystem, so it is vital that this area of the Midlands would be hospitable to them. During my visit I heard that there are six confirmed breeding pairs in this area, and possibly more. Of course, we didn’t see any because they are sitting on their nests and we were very careful not to disturb them but I’m hoping to return later in the summer to see them in flight.”

The area is part of the Hen Harrier Project, which is supported by Minister Hackett’s Department through funding under the EU’s Rural Development Programme. Farmers participating in the results-based project receive payments for delivering sustainable benefits for biodiversity.

Referring to the importance of such programmes, the Minister continued:

“May 22nd is International Day for Biological Diversity and it is really important we do all we can to heighten awareness of projects supporting Ireland’s beautiful protected species. The hen harrier is a rare, ground nesting bird of prey and for them to nest, breed, hunt, and rear their chicks the land needs to be managed is a sustainable way. That’s why farmers, like George and Hazel, are so important, and I look forward to being able to continue to support this wonderful work.”

Fergal Monaghan, Hen Harrier Project Manager commented:

"We are delighted to have Minister Hackett here in the Slieve Blooms Special Protection Area. This region supports one of the largest Hen Harrier populations in the country. The birds that nest and rear their chicks here depend on the habitats that farmers maintain. These farmland habitats do more than just support Hen Harriers, they benefit other wildlife, store Carbon, and improve water quality, all important public goods delivered through Agriculture."
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