Minister Gormley commends BirdWatch Ireland on their 40th anniversary


Mr. John Gormley T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government today has commended BirdWatch for their work over the last 40 years in highlighting the variety and richness of wild birds on this island.

Founded in 1968 - originally as the Irish Wildlife Conservancy - BirdWatch Ireland is now one of the largest independent conservation organisations in Ireland with the aim of the conservation of wild birds and their natural habitats.

The Minister said - "There has been a long association between the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department and BirdWatch Ireland. I recognise that you have a wide range of activities including advocacy as well as scientific work. In keeping with international best practice, BirdWatch has been instrumental in the development and delivery of atlases of breeding and wintering birds, IWeBS (the Irish Wetland Bird Survey) and the CBS (Countryside Bird Survey), which are now key components to Ireland's reporting under the Birds Directive.

"It has also been a key player in the delivery of conservation work on such species as the corncrake, the roseate tern and breeding waders - particularly on the Shannon Callows. My Department will continue to work with you on various research, survey and management projects."

The organisation has currently over 14,000 members and supporters and a local network of over 20 branches across the country. BirdWatch Ireland's new policy document - Why Birds Count - Policy and Advocacy Priorities for BirdWatch Ireland - was launched at the organisation's Annual Conference and puts into context the importance of birds to biodiversity.

The Minister also stated that he is looking forward to working closely with BirdWatch Ireland to discharge Ireland's obligations under EU legislation in the coming years. The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has been engaged in a process in the last few years in designating and redesignating a large number of Special Protection Areas. The Minister secured significant extra funds in the 2008 budget - which, amongst other things, will pay farmers for environmentally-friendly farming in designated areas.

Minister Gormley will be making further announcements during the year relating to the designation of additional sites following his announcement in 2007 of proposals to designate six new SPA sites relating to the protection of hen harriers.

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