A win for Ireland’s biodiversity as Department secures multi-annual EU funding for major Conservation Programme

€4.3m in EU Life funding awarded to Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to develop Corncrake Conservation Project

The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, today welcomed the announcement of €4.3m in EU LIFE funding, awarded to her Department’s National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), for a project focused on improving the conservation status of Corncrake in Ireland.

Corncrake is a species listed for special protection under Annex 1 of the EU Birds Directive. Once synonymous with the Irish countryside, the population of Corncrake has declined by 85% since the 1970s, with a similar decrease in range, meaning that the species is now effectively confined to Connacht and Donegal, including offshore islands. Supporting Corncrake in these remaining strongholds is critical to the survival of this species in Ireland.

The Minister noted that “this funding demonstrates the ongoing importance of the EU LIFE programme in assisting national governments to drive forward and support large-scale projects that have a regional or local focus, particularly in rural or peripheral areas. This funding will allow my Department, working in concert with stakeholders across Government and the communities in question, to put concrete and sustainable measures in place to help secure the future of this species, which has a special place in Irish culture’.

The Head of the European Commission’s Representation in Ireland, Gerard Kiely, commented that “this project to enhance the conservation status of the Corncrake will benefit from €4.3m in funding from the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action: the LIFE programme. Protecting biodiversity is a major priority for the European Commission, particularly in the context of President Ursula von der Leyen’s Green Deal.”

The €5.9m budget ‘LIFE Atlantic Crex’ project is due to commence in January 2020 and will run for five years. The project will see conservation work funded in project sites in counties Donegal, Mayo and Galway. Working in partnership with landowners, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and Fota Wildlife Park, the project aims to deliver a 20% increase on the 2018 population of Corncrake recorded in Ireland by 2024.

Announcing the award of funding today Minister Madigan said:

“The decline in Corncake numbers is of significant conservation concern in Ireland. Conserving species in their natural habitats requires a strategic approach to succeed. I am committed to this project, which demonstrates synergies between my Department’s strategic goals of protecting our natural heritage and facilitating sustainable development of island and rural communities.

“During 2019 we have introduced a number of significant measures to protect and promote Ireland’s biodiversity: introducing an order obliging all public bodies to report on their efforts to protect biodiversity; increasing funding for community groups’ biodiversity projects and; a €7m investment to accelerate peatlands restoration and conservation.”

The Government Chief Whip and Minister of State for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Seán Kyne TD, visited the European Commission Office today in Dublin to meet with representatives and members of the Department’s National Parks and Wildlife Service who have been involved in the Corncrake Conservation Programme and who will be active in this project.  Minister Kyne said “the National Parks and Wildlife Service is to be commended for their conservation work, particularly in this area.  This EU Life funded project is a vital lifeline and will enable the NPWS to deliver on the conservation objectives to secure the future of this iconic breeding bird in rural Ireland.”

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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