Country Infos

Country Profile Manager:
James Moran
Atlantic Technological University
Phone: +353 86 6063949





The Hen Harrier Project aims to deliver sustainable benefits for biodiversity, upland ecosystems and for the local rural economy by building partnerships with farmers who have land designated as Special Protection Areas (SPA) for breeding Hen Harrier through a results-based approach to farming for conservation.

Location of the scheme

several regions

Border; West; Midlands; South-West; Mid-West Region

Duration of the scheme

Since: 2017
Until: 2023

Objective(s) of the scheme / project

  • Biodiversity
  • Cultural heritage
  • Erosion control
  • Water quality
  • Other

Other _ Securing soil carbon stocks, reducing wildfire risk

The project will pursue the following objectives: ensure the sustainable management of High Nature Value farmland in the most important areas for Hen Harrier; promote a stronger socio-economic outlook for what are generally difficult to manage marginally agriculturally productive areas; develop an effective model for future sustainable management of Hen Harrier areas; foster continued positive relations between the people who have managed this landscape for generations, the relevant Government Departments and the special biodiversity that exists on the land.

Which habitats or species are in the focus of the scheme / project?

  • Habitats (incl. habitats of Fauna-Flora-Habitat-Directive (FFH-D.))
  • Species (incl. species of FFH-D. and Birds Directive (BD))
  • Landscape elements
  • Wetland

Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus) is a medium sized bird of prey of conservation concern in Ireland. The Hen Harrier project is targeted specifically at farmers with land designated for the protection of breeding Hen Harrier in Slieve Beagh, Slieve Bloom Mountains, Slieve Felim to Silvermines Mountains, Slieve Aughty Mountains, Stacks to Mullaghereirk Mountains, West Limerick Hills & Mount Eagle and Mullaghanish to Musheramore Mountains Special Protection Areas (SPAs). In 2007, under Article 4 of the Birds Directive, six Special Protection Areas (SPAs) covering a total land area of c.167,117 hectares were classified for the conservation of the Hen Harrier.

The most common farmland habitat in the Hen Harrier SPAs are: grasslands, including wet grassland, dry-humid acid grassland and semi-improved grassland; scrub and woodland; peatlands and wetlands.

Which indicators are used?

  • Habitats (incl FFH and BD)
  • Species (incl FFH and BD)
  • Landscape Elements
  • Physical structures (e.g. dead wood, presence of brushwood, hollow trees, tall grass)

Design of scheme / project

  • Hybrid result based payment with complementary management based payments

All lands within the Hen Harrier SPAs with the exceptions of, buildings (and their curtilage), farmyards and commercial forestry are eligible to be considered for payment. Payment for the provision of linear strips of wild bird cover and the establishment of hedgerows are the only case where payments will be made on undesignated lands. Leased or rented land must have been declared on the applicant’s 2017 Basic Payment Scheme application.

Farmers will be paid through the Hen Harrier Programme in three ways:

1) Results-based payments. Each field in the programme will have its potential habitat points calculated by the project team. This is based on the available Hen Harrier a relative habitat value.. The Potential Habitat Points are the maximum points that a field can attain.

2) Supporting actions payment. From year 2 supporting actions payments may be claimed annually.

3) Hen Harrier payment. Participant farmers can avail of two types of Hen Harrier Payment. The available funds will be split evenly between the two types of payment. These are i) a SPA Level Payment and ii) a Local Nest or Winter Roost Payment. The participating farmer may qualify for one or both payments. The SPA Level Payment rewards participating farmers whose SPA continues to support a stable or increasing Hen Harrier population. If SPA level goals are achieved, then all participating farmers with a field scoring 6 or higher in that SPA will qualify for this dividend. Participants qualify for the Local Nest or Winter Roost Payment based on having at least one field with a field score of 6 or higher within a defined distance of a breeding site/ winter roost site or a successful nest site. Hen Harrier payments serve to attach a value to the species. The presence of the bird is a shared resource that all of the farming community in the SPAs should be able to access.

By which fund(s) is the scheme / project implemented?

  • Other measures of Rural Development

EIP operational group

Is there a top up in case of reaching the goals?

  • Yes

See Hen Harrier payment above

How many hectares are in the scheme?

  • More than 5.000

How many farmers take part in the scheme?

  • 1.001 – 2.000

How are participating farmers supervised/advised?

  • Advisors visits (obligatory)
  • Advisors visits (optional)
  • Advice by telephone
  • Information documents (pamphlets, reports, etc.)
  • Website
  • Information meetings/workshops (voluntary)
  • Other

Other Social Media, training films, link sent by text to allow participant to watch on their mobile phone

Are there any evaluation results?

  • In preparation

Annual reports available on project website


Contact person

Fergal Monaghan,

Unit 2 Oran point, Oranmore, Co. Galway, Ireland