By Colm Croffy
Locals from Ballydangan and Moore collaborated in producing a promotional video with Roscommon County Council for the Red Grouse Project, an initiative aimed to prevent the extinction of endangered bird species. The widely acclaimed innovative, Ballydangan Red Grouse Project, was founded in 2009 by Moore Gun and Conservation Club and a small group of its village residents. Since then a long standing partnership with Moore District CE Scheme has supported the initiative and is currently employing four workers to help on the land with predator control and nest protection. The project was initially established to protect Red Grouses in Ballydangan, who has experienced a 50% decline nationwide between the 1970s and 2008 and has especially seen a reduction within the local region as a result of commercial peat extraction.
The initiative has since diversified and welcomed a breeding site for varying wader species including Lapwing, Curlew, Snipe, and other small ground nesting birds. The community pursuit aims to increase awareness surrounding these species, as well as any other listed mammals, insects and plants found on their sites. The projects leader Pat Feehily, a suckler and sheep farmer from Ballydangan, spoke about the habitat grounds in a recently produced video with Roscommon County Council sharing: “we are blessed to have this natural resource on our doorstep. It is regarded as one of Ireland’s best examples of community conservation.” The wet bogs of Ballydangan store over 10,000 years’ worth of carbon and act as a safe-haven for its vulnerable species with its abundance of insects, as discussed by Moore peatland ecologist David Fallon.
The bogland has been attracting visitors from nearby schools, colleges and the general public, as well as international students from the University of Galway to study biodiversity in the area. The project leaders hope to continue educating the public on the declining number of red listed species and other aspects of conservation. The land is currently home to eight to ten pairs of Curlew, previously one of the most common birds in the Roscommon landscape but now down to 150 breeding sets across the Republic. “We have seen a phenomenal increase in the number of ground nesting birds on site and we look forward to its continued success and improve into these numbers in the future” stated Pat. The short promotional video can be found in its entirety on the Roscommon County Council YouTube channel below:
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