Search for European Projects

Restoration Management for Annex I Birds at Termoncarragh Lake SPA (Termoncarragh)
Start date: Jun 1, 2001, End date: Nov 30, 2005 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background Termoncarragh Lake is located on the Mullet peninsula in western Ireland amid extensive machair grassland. This coastal freshwater lake and its surrounding areas are of importance for breeding waders and wintering wildfowl, including the barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis) and the Greenland white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons flavirostris). The corn crake (Crex crex) also uses the area occasionally, and there is a high potential for restoration of suitable habitat for this priority species. Annagh Marsh is a small coastal machair site, just south of Termoncarragh Lake, and within the Special Protection Area (SPA). It was until recently the only regular Irish breeding site for the red-necked phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus). The economic mainstay for the district is low-intensity agriculture within small holdings. It is essentially based on subsidies, with low returns on the sale of farming produce. An estimated 75 percent of farmers were in the national Irish scheme for EU agri-environment subsidies, called REPS, in 2000. Yet here was the paradox: this scheme, it was thought, might be hindering rather than encouraging the conservation of the local birdlife, due to a lack of awareness of species' needs, negative attitudes among farmers to site designation, inadequate linkages between farming and conservation and a lack of suitable demonstration areas for bird-friendly management. Objectives The intention of the LIFE-Nature project was to turn the constraints facing farmers into an opportunity, both for the birds and for the local community, by demonstrating that Natura 2000 can be a positive element in realising potential socio-economic benefits for disadvantaged rural regions. Using Termoncarragh Lake and Annagh Marsh as focal points, the project aimed to restore and manage BirdWatch Ireland land and establish management agreements with local landowners on surrounding machair and farmland. Important land would be purchased, breeding birds monitored and action and management plans developed. This aimed ultimately to protect the habitats and create ideal conditions for Annex I breeding and wintering birds, The project thus hoped to demonstrate best practice to be taken on board during the mid-term review of REPS 2, so as to add a more targeted habitat enhancement dimension to the agri-environment scheme with appropriate conservation prescriptions for species and habitats in SPAs and pSCIs. This work would be accompanied by a positive information campaign to counteract previous negative perceptions of Natura 2000 designations and to encourage further uptake of the new REPS scheme. Results The project purchased 20 ha of land – ‘Termoncarragh Meadows’ - for restoration or enhancement, thus extending the boundaries of the SPA. It carried out pool restoration and associated habitat management work at Annagh Marsh, enhancing grasslands for corn crake and managing grassland and rushes for the benefit of the barnacle goose and the Greenland white-fronted goose. Specific benefits have been seen for the Annex I bird species identified in the project proposal. Corn crake have bred successfully each year with up to two territorial males present and an increase of up to three other males holding territories close to the project area boundaries. The winter population of the barnacle goose in the SPA increased to 1,200 birds whilst it has provided a secure winter feeding area for up to 52 Greenland white-fronted geese. Although not all the specific targets were met for all species – such as the red-necked phalarope - the habitat management prescriptions have delivered wide benefits in increasing key breeding wader and winter waterbird populations. The work has benefited species such as Vanellus vanellus, Calidris alpina, Gallinago gallinago and Tringa tetanus, and also enhanced important non-avian populations, including some nationally rare invertebrates. The project successfully provided a forum for an effective working partnership and demonstrated how agri-environment prescriptions under REPS can be enhanced. The project had a considerable influence on farmers and governmental decision makers in the agricultural sector. Aspects of the project were included in the revised REPS following the mid-term review of the scheme in 2004 and the National Parks and Wildlife Service agreed to fund the cost of continuing the management agreements for wintering geese for two winters following the project. Such schemes can help secure the long-term future of the area.
Up2Europe Ads


Project Website

1 Partners Participants