The barn owl
Farmers in Donegal are being encouraged to have boxes on their lands for barn owl nests.
And if they do, they will receive a small annual payment.
It is all part of conservation measures for barn owls, and is tied into the new Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES).
The new measure, which focuses on improved methods of rodent control on farms to reduce the use and effects of rodenticides, will provide safe and secure nest sites for barn owls.
It will also help the barn owl population to rise again.
The barn owl is one of Ireland’s most recognisable and admired birds. Known as the ‘farmers friend’, it has long been closely linked with farming practices in Ireland, and traditionally nested in old stone farm buildings, often within the farmyard.
However, it is a species which has struggled in recent decades and, due to widespread declines in their population and range, it is a Red-listed Bird of Conservation Concern in Ireland.
The decline of the barn owl in Ireland has been driven by several factors, such as land use changes, the intensification of farming which has caused the loss of suitable habitat, the loss of nest sites (such as old stone farm buildings) and the increased use of rodenticides (rat poisons) may also have impacted Barn Owl populations.
The Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) recently announced by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine includes a barn-owl-specific measure, to help address some of the factors which have caused the Barn Owl population decline.
The measure requires adopting an integrated pest management approach to reduce the use and effects of rodenticides and to provide a nest box in a suitable location, for which the farmer receives a payment of €36.48 per unit per year.
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