The Hen Harrier Programme provides financial support to farmers who take steps on their lands to protect hen harrier populations. It is a locally-led scheme that encourages farmers to manage their fields in ways that benefit the environment.
The hen harrier is a rare, ground nesting bird of prey, adapted to open moorland and marginal grassland habitats.
Expressions of interest in the scheme were invited in 2017. Those who participated during the design phase of the programme were automatically accepted. Farmers with lands in a critical site for hen harriers, such as nest sites or winter roosts, were also accepted.
All other farms were scored based on the proportion of the farm designated and the total area designated as a special protection area for breeding hen harriers.
Those accepted by the Hen Harrier Project Team were notified and a farm plan was prepared free of charge. Those deciding to participate were required to sign a contract and comply with the scheme’s conditions.
The 5-year programme targets farmers with land designated for the protection of breeding hen harriers in Slieve Beagh, the Slieve Bloom Mountains, Slieve Felim to Silvermines Mountains, Slieve Aughty Mountains, Stacks to Mullaghereirk Mountains, West Limerick Hills and Mount Eagle and the Mullaghanish to Musheramore Mountains special protection areas
The scheme includes both results-based payments
and payments based on the type of habitat on the farmer’s lands. The work assessed as part of the results-based system is reviewed by the project team.
Farmers are able to participate in the Green Low-carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) and a locally-led scheme like the Hen Harrier Project, as well as other direct payment schemes, but cannot claim for similar work on the same land.