One of Europe’s most important nature reserves celebrates 50 years
A stronghold for nearly half of the world’s Greenland White-fronted Geese, Wexford Wildfowl Reserve invites public to mark its anniversary
The Wexford Wildfowl Reserve – which encompasses up to 200 hectares of farmland on the North Slob, near Wexford town – marks its 50th anniversary with an Open Day on this Sunday, 27th October.
The Reserve is co-owned by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and BirdWatch Ireland, and managed by the Department’s National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
The land is farmed to a very high standard by a group of local farmers on behalf of the Department. They – along with other land-owners on the North Slob who participate in an NPWS Farm Plan Scheme – are central to the successful conservation effort at the Reserve.
A wide range of overwintering birds, including Brent Geese, Whooper Swans, Curlews, Godwits, Lapwings and Golden Plovers are now present, and the Reserve is regarded as a stronghold for nearly half of the world’s Greenland White-fronted Geese.
The European Year of Conservation in 1969 saw several conservation projects take place in Ireland including the first purchase of land at Wexford’s North Slob.
The numbers of Greenland White-fronted Geese had been increasing on the North Slob since the 1940s. The then newly established nature reserve provided safe foraging areas for the species, free from disturbance, and facilitating public access for birdwatching. A Visitor Centre with an observation tower was completed in 1974, by which time the geese numbered about 7000. The numbers overwintering on Wexford’s North Slob now constitutes almost half of the world’s population of the species, giving the Reserve more than one reason to celebrate.
An Open Day will take place at the Reserve this Sunday with a programme of events including tours, historical talks, presentations from Birdwatch Ireland and on scientific research.
There will also be a screening of a short bilingual documentary from 1974; an episode of “Amuigh faoin Spéir” entitled “North Slob”.
As the Greenland White-fronted Geese have started arriving for overwintering, there may also be the opportunity to see this species, for which the North Slobs is such an important place.
The Wexford Wildfowl Reserve welcomes thousands of visitors each year to its Visitor Centre.