A new five-year European-funded conservation project that spans Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland will improve habitats for birds, butterflies and other species, restore blanket bog and help produce drinking water at a lower cost.
The Co-operation Across Borders for Biodiversity (CABB) project, supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), was launched today.
CABB is a €4.9m (£4.3m) project being delivered through a partnership between RSPB NI (the lead partner), RSPB Scotland, BirdWatch Ireland, Butterfly Conservation, Northern Ireland Water and Moors for the Future. The project will see 2,228 hectares of blanket bog being restored across the three countries.
Garron in Coungty Antrim is one of the best examples of blanket bog anywhere on the island of Ireland. A well-managed and functioning blanket bog on the site will help species including hen harriers, curlews and cuckoos to survive in future, along with plants including marsh saxifrage and Irish lady's-tresses orchids. Garron is the only known site for the marsh saxifrage in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland Water owns and manages the site where contractors will get to work at the beginning of January to block drains that will, alongside appropriate grazing levels, restore and sustainably manage blanket bog habitat.
RSPB NI will be writing Conservation Action Plans for the Garron Plateau SAC, Montiaghs Moss SAC in County Antrim and Pettigo Plateau SAC in County Fermanagh, by working with and supporting landowners as we agree plans to manage these precious sites, while Butterfly Conservation is working with landowners and volunteers at a number of sites to improve the conditions for the marsh fritillary butterfly.
Welcoming the official launch of the project Gina McIntyre, CEO of the SEUPB said: “This innovative cross-border project will make a significant contribution to the protection of the precious natural habitats of vulnerable wildlife found across Northern Ireland, the border region of Ireland and Western Scotland. In doing so it will help to deliver the environmental protection objectives of the INTERREG VA Programme and also make a real contribution towards the EU’s Birds and Habitats Directives.”
The project aims to improve breeding habitat for curlews, lapwings, redshanks and snipe in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and also to improve habitat for hen harriers. Another aim is to raise awareness in the communities involved of the environmental, cultural and historical importance of these wetland habitats.
Speaking at the launch, Clive Mellon, Chair, RSPB NI, said: “We are delighted to be leading the CABB project and we are particularly thankful for SEUPB’s support. This is key European funding for what is a vital conservation project. CABB is the largest project that RSPB NI has been involved in to date and I have no doubt that, along with our partners, we will improve habitats and deliver great things for bogs, butterflies and birds across Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland.”
Roy Taylor, Northern Ireland Water Catchment Manager, added: “NI Water are delighted to be part of this project which helps achieve our aims of providing clean, safe water to drink, whilst protecting and enhancing the natural environment through sustainable catchment based solutions. The CABB project gives us the opportunity to work with partners to restore the entire Garron Plateau blanket bog catchment area, thus enhancing habitats for rare wildlife such as then harriers, golden plovers, snipe, red grouse and common lizards. It will also improve the quality and reliability of water received at our treatment works in an environmentally sustainable way to supply clean, safe drinking water at a lower cost.”
Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in Ireland.
Last Updated: Monday 11 December 2017