Major conservation project for Rathlin Island gets green light - RSPB Northern Ireland

view of Rathlin Island cliffs
Rathlin Island (Jamie Haughton on unsplash)

A £4.5 million conservation project that will safeguard Rathlin Island’s internationally important seabird population and wildlife has been given the go ahead, following major funding.

The partnership project, known as Rathlin Acting for Tomorrow (LIFE Raft), has received funding from EU LIFE, The National Lottery Heritage Fund (development phase) and Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), with contributions from RSPB NI, Rathlin Development and Community Association (RDCA) and Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust (CCGHT).

This £4.5 million island restoration project is set to be the largest-of-its-kind on the island of Ireland and will be delivered over five years. Focusing on natural heritage and community, the initiative will help Rathlin Island’s economic recovery following the impact of Covid-19, while protecting its important wildlife.

Rathlin is known as a haven for wildlife, including many threatened species, and hosts Northern Ireland’s largest seabird colony, which is one of the most important breeding sites in both the UK and Ireland. However, its wildlife is under threat, including 25 bird species and notably the puffin which has declined by more than half in recent years. One of the key threats is from predation by invasive non-native species.

The project will safeguard Rathlin’s seabirds and ground-nesting birds that are under threat through a brown rat and ferret eradication programme. With 70% of visitors to Rathlin citing birds and wildlife as their main reason for visiting, by restoring Rathlin’s natural heritage, the project will bring benefits for the local community.

Posted on: 10 September 2021

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