Farmers help Foyle lapwing survive, says bird lobby

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Local farmers along the Lough Foyle shore have been helping one of Northern Ireland’s most important populations of breeding lapwing to survive.

That’s according to the RPSB, which points out that, since 2011 farmers have been working hard to make homes for these delightful, charismatic wading birds on their land as part of the RSPB’s Halting Environmental Loss Project (HELP).

Breeding waders, including curlew, snipe and lapwing, have declined in Northern Ireland by an average of 83 per cent over the last 25 years.

However, HELP has shown great successes in changing the fortunes for these birds throughout the province. The Lough Foyle area now holds around 60 pairs of breeding lapwing, representing about 5 per cent of the total population in NI.

Nearly £1.5 million has been given to HELP from the European Regional Development Fund through the INTERREG IVA Programme, which is delivered locally by the Special EU Programmes Body.

Speaking about the project, which is due to end this month, RSPB Project Officer Gareth Bareham said: “Breeding lapwing and other birds of conservation concern rely absolutely on the goodwill of famers working with nature within a busy farmed landscape and without the efforts of our farmers we could easily lose one of NIs most important populations of these birds.”

RSPB recently held a thank you event along the Lough Foyle Levels to mark the conclusion of the very successful HELP, at which the work of local farmers, landowners and community representatives was celebrated.

For further information on the project or to report breeding waders on your land in the Lough Foyle area, please contact gareth.bareham@rspb.org.uk or call 07702237355.