Community Conservation Project provides precious lifeline for iconic Red Grouse and Curlews
- Bord na Móna commends Community Conservation Partnerships model
- Ministers Naughten and Humphreys both attend ceremony to commend remarkable achievements
- Rare Red Grouse and Curlew benefit from project
Bord na Móna and the Community of Ballydangan, Co. Roscommon are celebrating the remarkable achievements of a project that has conserved populations of Red Grouse, Curlew and other species of national significance.
Ballydangan Bog, which is owned by Bord na Móna, has been the focus of a joint company and community conservation effort since 2010. Their efforts in controlling predators and rewetting the bog have conserved a population of the iconic and rare Red Grouse and helped the endangered Curlew flourish on the bog. Since the Project began, the bog has become a national hotspot for Curlews.
Speaking at the event Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten TD said “the Red Grouse Conservation Project is an exemplary model of the success that can be wrought from local engagement by the State and state companies. The environmental benefits of the hard work of all involved here are wide-ranging, but perhaps most significantly from a Climate Action perspective, a blueprint is provided for unlocking the carbon sequestration potential of our nation’s boglands”
Welcoming the two Ministers, Head of Business Transformation and People Officer Joe Lanefor Bord na Móna said “It is terrific that Minister Denis Naughten and Minister Heather Humphreys are both here to commend the wonderful work done by Bord na Móna and the local community here. With a conservation project like this you need a lot of people working together and because this partnership had the support of the local community and gun club we were able to ensure Ballydangan bog is a wonderful safe haven for wildlife of national significance.
We had a few goals here, one of which was to protect the Red Grouse, Hen Harrier and Curlew populations and I delighted to say we have achieved this. We wanted to preserve the active raised bog habitat that existed here and we have achieved that. We also particularly wanted to demonstrate to other communities the rich dividends that can accrue from this kind of eco activity. I would encourage others to come to Ballydangan, walk the bog and to talk to the local people and get a sense of what a terrific amenity these places are for a community.”
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Notes to editors
Ballydangan Bog was acquired by Bord na Móna in the 1970s and was originally surveyed by Bord na Móna Ecology Team in Jan 2010. The potential for bog restoration was immediately recognised with terrific potential for bog restoration and increasing the cover of wetter bog communities with high Sphagnum cover. Other habitats identified included the rich fen flush, an interesting natural hydrological drainage feature across the bog, that added to the overall biodiversity value of the site
The decision was then taken in 2010 by Bord na Móna to conserve this bog and zone it as a biodiversity area. A survey soon indicated that species of high conservation value with species such as Hen Harrier, Red Grouse and Curlew using the site. Ballydangan still held low numbers of the iconic Red Grouse, those Irish breeding population is particularly low and declining on lowland raised bogs.
A local Gun Club, Moore Gun Club, approached Bord na Móna in 2010 to talk about a potential collaborative project on the site to conserve the Red Grouse. With further engagement between Bord na Móna, Moore Gun Club and other stakeholders, this developed into a Red Grouse Conservation Project. 234 ha of the bog was leased from Bord na Móna to Moore Gun Club in 2011 and the Red Grouse Project managed by Moore Gun Club commenced.
Bog Restoration works by Bord na Móna commenced in 2013. The main objective was to raise water levels and re-wet the bog, encourage the development of Sphagnum-rich plant communities and the long-term restoration of raised bog habitat function.
The Project developed a management plan that included such actions like raising awareness of Red Grouse and raised bog conservation, site monitoring, bog restoration, habitat enhancement (cutting of heather) and predator control. The Bord na Móna Ecology Team continued engagement and ecological support throughout.
Bord na Móna has now restored over 1,400 ha of high bog across 12 different raised bogs and bog remnants.