Councillor Paul Greenfield
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s environment committee has backed a project aimed at increasing the number of breeding curlew and lapwing birds in the borough.
Members of the committee were told, at its meeting on Tuesday, May 3, about biodiversity service’s work with the Lough Neagh Partnership to stop the decline of endangered breeding waders.
It was explained that although lapwing are a common sight in the borough, the population is made up mostly of wintering flock who breed in other countries. Officers noted local breeding birds are in steep decline and explained curlews are restricted to small areas along the River Blackwater and and the Lough Neagh shore.
In an attempt to understand and reverse this decline in nesting birds, the Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership has had a project officer based at Lough Neagh Discovery Centre who has been coordinating the monitoring of nesting birds, undertaking community engagement and working with farmers and landowners to protect nests and control predators on land with breeding waders.
Funding for the continuation of this project has been applied for via the environmental fund and is subject to the council approval but this funding, even if granted, will not be made available until the summer.
The curlew corner project aims to continue this monitoring and protection of nests during the vital breeding season. The breeding wader project aims to bridge the gap until further grant funding becomes available this summer.
It is anticipated that should funding be received, it can be matched with payment in kind, mostly staff time and volunteers.
Officers estimate this project will cost £3,690 and have confirmed this funding can be found within existing budgets.
Curlew and lapwing nesting sites have been identified and the project will aim to monitor these nests during the breeding season. Advice will be given to landowners and farmers about protecting the nests and further engagement with the local community is planned.
The project will also design and supervise any predator controls so that best practice is observed while a report will be produced on the progress of the project and the outputs delivered.
The overall goal of the project is to build a team of local people informed and invested in curlew and lapwing breeding success along the Lower Blackwater River and the Lough Shore.
Presenting the report to members of the committee, the council’s head of environmental service, Barry Patience said that officers were content that if members could agree to this “it would be a very beneficial thing to do”.
A proposal to accept officers’ recommendation to approve the breeding wader project was put forward by Councillor Paul Greenfield and seconded by Councillor Julie Flaherty and the committee voiced its support for the proposal.