Irish conservation project nominated for major EU environmental prize

Published by Niall Sargent on

March 16th, 2018

An Irish project to conserve one of Europe’s rarest and most beautiful seabirds has reached the final of the European Union’s prestigious Natura 2000 award competition.

The Irish Roseate Tern Conservation Project led by BirdWatch Ireland is the only Irish nominee among the 25 finalists.

Based on tiny Rockabill Island off the coast of north Co. Dublin, the project has supported almost half of the European Roseate Tern population for the past three decades.

The project involves the management of the Tern’s breeding habitat, as well as the securing of nest boxes for breeding to ensure the best possible conditions for successful nesting.

Ongoing research is also a key part of the work, according to examining feeding regimes and chick growth rates.

The results of the project have been “remarkable” so far, according to Birdwatch Ireland, with the Roseate Tern population up from just 152 pairs in 1989 to 1,603 pairs in 2017.

Roseate Tern Photo: Brian Burke

Roseate Tern Photo: Brian Burke

Natura 2000 Competition

The competition recognises excellence in the management of Natura 2000 sites across Europe and pays tribute to all who are working tirelessly to protect Europe’s most precious wildlife.

A jury of experts will evaluate the projects and decide who will be the winner in five of the award categories, including Conservation and Socio-Economic benefits.

There is also an EU Citizens’ Award decided on by public vote, won last year by a project to save the Iberian Lynx, which attracted 6,000 public votes.

According to Dr Stephen Newton, Birdwatch’s Senior Seabird Conservation Officer, the group would be “delighted” to get the support of the Irish people.

Roseate Tern on Rockabill Photo: Maeve Maher-McWilliams

Roseate Tern on Rockabill Photo: Maeve Maher-McWilliams

“BirdWatch Ireland is extremely proud of the success of the Roseate Tern conservation project and is thrilled to have reached the final of the prestigious Natura 2000 award,” he added.

“Rockabill Island is now the most important source for these gorgeous birds in Europe and is now playing a major role in naturally restocking other colonies in Britain and France. “

The closing date for voting is 22 April 2018 and interested citizens can vote here:

The Irish Roseate Tern Conservation Project is also supported by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Commissioners of Irish Lights.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London