The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) have recently launched the Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus SPA Habitat Map Viewer. This has been produced as part of the Hen Harrier Mapping Project. The Hen Harrier is identified as a species of high conservation concern in Ireland and the UK and is protected in Ireland under the Wildlife Act 1976 & Amendment Act 2000. It is also listed under Annex 1 of the EU Birds Directive. The online map viewer is available here.
Under Article 4 of the Birds Directive (Directive 2009/ 147/EC) six Special Protection Areas (SPAs), covering a total land area of c.1,671km², has been classified for the conservation of the Hen Harrier in Ireland. With its breeding population having declined by more than 50% in the past 30 years the Hen Harrier is listed as an Annex I species under the EU Birds Directive (1979) and accordingly has a high conservation status. Annex I refers to a list of species that require strict protection due to their populations declining seriously throughout their respective ranges.
In 2014, the Hen Harrier Mapping Project focused on Special Protection Areas (SPAs) designated for the Hen Harrier using remote sensing techniques. The project involved producing a contemporary digitised habitat map for each of the six SPAs designated for Hen Harrier in the country. Habitat categories were broadly based on the habitat classification system developed by Fossitt (2000) that distinguishes habitats of ecological relevance to Hen Harrier. Mapping resolution corresponds to Ordnance Survey Ireland base-maps whereby land use within discreet enclosed land parcels can be readily identifiable. Several existing geospatially referenced datasets including the National forest inventory datasets and the National Parks & Wildlife Service habitat datasets were incorporated into the survey to provide habitat data coverage of SPA land areas.
The mapping output covers an extensive area of high resolution (broadly Fossitt Habitat Level 3), and as such will serve as an important tool for spatial planning in SPAs, including Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and assessments required under Article 6 of the EU Habitats Directive.
- The online map viewer is available here.
For further information please also see:-
- ECOFACT Bird surveys and ornithological impact assessments
- Breeding Bird Surveys 2014
- ECOFACT Hen Harrier Surveys
- Recommended bird survey methods
- ECOFACT Breeding Bird Surveys
- Breeding bird surveys
ECOFACT ornithologists are experts in providing both surveys and impact assessments in relation to Hen Harriers. Please contact us to discuss any bird survey or ornithological impact assessment requirements.