Farmers undertaking actions to conserve critically threatened farmland birds will get priority access to substantial funding within Ireland’s new Rural Development Programme.
If properly implemented, this move offers hope of halting declines and restoring bird populations across the country.
Ireland’s biodiversity is facing very severe threats, with declining populations of many farmland birds and losses in extent and quality of many semi-natural habitats in the mosaic of Ireland’s farmed landscapes.
There has been extensive research in the UK, in particular, which has related farmland bird declines to changes in agricultural practices since the 1970s.
Specific causes for these changes included a variety of farming practices, including increased use of pesticides and fertilisers, increased mechanisation and losses of hedgerow extent and quality.
These changes in agriculture also took place in Ireland over the same period.