Threat Response Plan for Hen Harrier Needs More Practical Measures – IFA

IFA Ulster/North Leinster Regional Chair and SAC Project Team Chair Frank Brady has called for more targeted, longstanding and tangible supports (advisory & financial) for farmers to be included in the Threat Response Plan for Hen Harriers.

“The key role and preservation efforts that farmers in Hen Harriers areas are, and do play, in maintaining and enhancing the Hen Harrier habitats needs to be better supported. Initiatives must be given time too to develop and yield tangible results,” Frank Brady said.

“There’s no point having a 5-year scheme and then pull the plug, or dilute its ambition by throwing it into a less targeted nationally run schemes, like ACRES, and pay farmers even less for their endeavours. Because that’s where we at are today,” he added.

“Farmers/foresters cannot be less well off from their efforts to preserve the Hen Harrier’ Brady insisted, and ‘under no heading can there be any further designation of lands, or restrictions placed on SAC / non-SAC lands.”

“Designations slash land values and increase the management costs due to higher environmental standards, which decrease farmers’ flexibility with regards the management of the land. Existing supports are wholly inadequate and do not address these fundamental issues. Farmers need permanent payments for permanent designations and no additional lands should be designated until this is rectified,” he said.

IFA Farm Forestry Chair Jason Fleming added that there needs to be acceptance that forest management practices including afforestation are wholly compatible with hen harrier conservation when managed at a landscape level.

“The restrictions on planting and forest management activity within SPAs and non-designated important areas need to be reviewed as they are currently unworkable on some sites. National annual surveys need to be undertaken to provide more accurate conservation information to minimise disturbance to both hen harriers and forest operations,” Jason Fleming said.

IFA have prepared a draft template submission, which is available on the IFA website, for members interested in making a submission to the public consultation on the Threat Response Plan for the Hen Harrier, which closes 5pm on Tuesday 20th February.

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