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Little terns nest on the ground on shingle beaches which makes them very vulnerable to poor weather and to predators. Only a few colonies are found in Ireland with Baltray being one of the major colonies in this country. Photo courtesy of Birdwatch Ireland/Niall T. Keogh.

Over €100,000 in funding for biodiversity projects in County Louth is included in a €2,8m round of payments to local authorities throughout the country which was announced yesterday by Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD.

Welcoming the announcement, Green party candidate for Drogheda Rural, Anthony Murphy, said he was particularly delighted to see that €32,657 has been awarded to the little tern project in Baltray.

“The work being done on conservation is invaluable” he said. “The Biodiversity loss threat is real and we need more projects of this type to help tackle the decline and protect nature.” 

Volunteers from the Louth Nature Trust spend many hours each season, protecting the nesting sites of Little Terns, one of Ireland’s rarest breeding sea birds, on a 1.5 km area of Baltray beach.

The Baltray Little Tern Conservancy project is a volunteer-led programme to protect the breeding area of the Little Tern (Sterna albifrons) at ‘The Haven’, Baltray, each year from April to August. 

The programme allows the colony to fledge up to 150 fledglings, which are part of an Irish Sea meta-population. Without the project very few, if any, terns would fledge (as has happened in years without wardening). Little Terns are listed Amber (endangered) in the Habitats directive.

The Local Biodiversity Action Fund was created in 2018, to assist local authorities in the implementation of actions in support of biodiversity. A total just over €8.6m has been granted to local authorities through the LBAF since the scheme was launched.

The Project in Baltray is one of fourteen projects awarded funding in Louth and Meath in yesterday’s announcement. Other projects to benfit include:

  • €12,750 for Louth Tidy Towns - Biodiversity Restoration, Enhancement & Management Plans
  • €13,600 for Louth Hedgerow Survey, Awareness & Training Events
  • €14,582 for Louth Swift Project
  • €8,500 for Louth Species Audit
  • €16,575 for Louth Parks Biodiversity Action & Awareness
  • €1,289 for Recording Irish mayfly – establishing conservation status
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