Co-operation Across Borders for Biodiversity (CABB)

CABB is a three-country, six-partner conservation project that will improve habitats for birds, butterflies and plants across Northern Ireland, The Republic of Ireland and the west coast of Scotland.


Peatlands, wet grasslands and machair provide vital homes for a range of wildlife, including curlews, lapwings, hen harriers and marsh fritillary butterflies. Many of these habitats are under threat from drainage, inappropriate grazing, lack of management and climate change.

Supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), CABB is a €4.9m five-year partnership project. It is led by RSPB NI and also involves RSPB Scotland, Birdwatch Ireland, Butterfly Conservation, Moors for the Future and Northern Ireland Water.
Over the next five years we will work in partnership with farmers, landowners, statutory agencies and other key organisations to improve habitats at some of our most precious sites, which have been designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SCAs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs). We will produce Conservation Action Plans (CAPs) for eight SACs/SPAs in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland. 

The CABB team will also conduct habitat management work at key sites, including blocking drains to re-wet blanket bogs, introducing predator fences and new grazing regimes on blanket bog and machair, managing rush on lowland wet grassland, and consolidating the sea wall at Loch Gruinart, Islay, to protect the habitat beyond for breeding waders and wintering wildfowl. 


  • Improve habitats for breeding wading birds such as curlews, lapwings, redshanks and snipe as well as hen harriers and marsh fritillary butterflies.
  • Work towards the restoration of 2,228 hectares (ha) of blanket bog across Northern Ireland, Scotland and Ireland.
  • Work closely with landowners and farmers to map habitats and prepare eight Conservation Action Plans (CAPs) for EU-designated sites (Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas).
  • Raise awareness in local communities of the environmental, cultural and historic importance of blanket bogs and key wetland habitats.
  • Share experiences, best practice and data.


  • January 2017: project receives confirmation of INTERREG VA funding.
  • March 2017–December 2017: management and delivery staff appointed.
  • July 2017 onwards: delivery staff work with landowners and begin development of Conservation Action Plans (CAPs).
  • July 2017: first CABB Board meeting held in Belfast.
  • September 2017: Moors for the Future delivers drain blocking report for the Garron Plateau and provides technical support to drain blocking contractors.
  • September 2017: sighting of marsh fritillary butterfly at Montiaghs Moss (the first for several years).
  • September 2017: BirdWatch Ireland completes full survey of machair and coastal grassland sites important for breeding waders in counties Donegal and Sligo.
  • December 2017: official CABB launch in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland and baselines established for all sites where work is to be carried out.
  • January 2018: completion of Phase 1 of drain blocking at the Garron Plateau to help restore blanket bogs.
  • March 2018: appointment of consultants to map habitats at CAP sites.
  • March 2018: delivery of habitat management works at Airds Moss.
  • April 2018: initial surveys for waders and golden plovers across sites.
  • May 2018: third information sharing meeting with sister project 'Collaborative Action for the Natura Network’ (CANN)


Planned Work

By the end of 2021 we aim to have:
  • Published eight Conservation Action Plans for key EU designated SACs and SPAs. 
  • Blocked drains on the Garron Plateau with a view to restoring 444ha of blanket bog.
  • Blocked drains on the Muirkirk Uplands to allow 435ha of blanket bog to start recovering. 
  • Improved the condition of 900ha of blanket bog on the Dunragh Loughs/Pettigo Plateau SAC by erecting fencing and improving grazing. 
  • Blocked drains at Finandarry in the Ox Mountains with a view to restoring 449ha of blanket bog.
  • Improved 151ha of habitat at the Montiaghs SAC through water level management, scrub clearance, grazing and the installation of fencing.
  • Improved public access to the Montiaghs SAC through provision of a boardwalk and signage.
  • Improved 252ha of wet grassland in Co Fermanagh for breeding waders.
  • Consolidated the sea wall at Loch Gruinart, Islay, to protect key areas for breeding and wintering birds.
  • Uploaded habitat and species data to the main data management sites in each of the three countries.



CABB is a partnership between the following organisations. Please visit their websites to find out more about their involvement in CABB.


CABB is supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Match-funding for the project has been provided by Mines Restoration Ltd., the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in Ireland.

Eco Eye - Garron Plateau Bog Restoration

'For Peat's sake'

Duncan travels to Northern Ireland to view a bog restoration project at Garron Plateau that has been showing some promising results for water quality, bog regeneration, and local wildlife.

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Further reading

Find out how CABB will benefit curlews

The RSPB's work at Airds Moss Reserve
Why boglands are so important for birds and other wildlife

CABB is also working collaboratively with the INTERREG VA funded 'Collaborative Action for the Natura Network' (CANN) project that will improve the condition of protected habitats and priority species found within Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and Western Scotland. Find out more

How you can help

There are currently opportunities to volunteer with RSPB Scotland at the Airds Moss site. Please contact: or 0141 331 9809.

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Tagged with: Country: Northern Ireland Country: Scotland Habitat: Wetland Species: Curlew Species: Hen harrier Species: Lapwing Species: Redshank Species: Snipe Project status: Project types: Species protection