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Bird Study shows 30% decline in protected choughs as tourism project opposed

category national | environment | press release author Monday October 21, 2019 10:19author by foe - Friends of the Irish Environment Report this post to the editors

Press Release - Friends of the Irish Environment 21st Oct 2019

Minister urged to intervene to protect birds from €7m Dursey Island tourism development
Bird Study shows 30% decline in protected choughs

Minister for Arts, Culture, and the Gaeltachta Josepha Madigan, TD, has been asked to intervene on the proposed Dursey Island Cable Car and Visitor Centre Project in west Cork.

PRESS RELEASE
FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT

Minister urged to intervene to protect birds from €7m Dursey Island tourism development
Bird Study shows 30% decline in protected choughs

Minister for Arts, Culture, and the Gaeltachta Josepha Madigan, TD, has been asked to intervene on the proposed Dursey Island Cable Car and Visitor Centre Project in west Cork.

Cork County Council in partnership with Fáilte Ireland, have applied to An Bord Pleanala to replace the exiting 6 person cable car taking 10 minutes and construct two new cable cars to Dursey Island capable of carrying 200-300 passengers an hour each way. The project includes an extensive visitor centre on the mainland and the construction of 16 passing bays in the 4 km spur from the main Beara peninsula road and is designed to increase visitors to 80,000 per year.

In a letter to the Minister, the environmental charity Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE], who have their offices in the area, have pointed out that ‘surveys contained in the EIS shows record a 30% decline in Chough numbers since 2003. Scientific studies have established that tourism threatens the choughs.

While the Bird Survey highlights the fact that ‘In late June/early July, family groups were observed to start flocking on the western end of the island, and birds largely stayed around this area from this point onwards. One surveyor reported walking from the eastern to the western end of the island on 02/07/2019, observing no choughs until reaching the western end of the island’ which is the ‘key foraging and flock-forming area’.

A visitor study undertaken shows that this extreme western end of the island is visited by more visitors than any other area (26%) while 42% of visitors leave the path when reaching this area.

Scientific literature shows that breeding choughs forage for up to 300 metres from their nesting sites. Studies have shown that the ‘survival of young was lowest when tourist numbers were greatest because inexperienced birds had trouble finding sufficient food when disturbed frequently’. Yet even by the developer’s minimalistic and unenforceable 50 metre protection zone ‘22% of total foraging area will be lost’.

FIE points out that the target figure of 80,000 visitors is not supported by any studies, although a visitor management plan has been sought since the North and West Cork Strategic Plan 2002 to 2020. ‘While the EIA itself warns of potential dangers to the chough that can not be ruled out, it proposes no prohibition on visitors or other meaningful measures beside signage to protect the bird, as restrictions would be counterproductive as they required most in the peak tourist months of July and August.’

Tony Lowes of FIE says that their organisation is ‘well aware of the stretched staffing and resourcing in the Minister’s National Parks and Wildlife Service and it is for that reason that we have flagged this development with her. We have no doubt that when her staff examines the scientific research and the nature of the development they will determine that exploiting Dursey Island like this will threaten the survival of the chough and set a precedent for future mass tourism in Ireland at the expense of our protected wildlife.’

An Bord Pleanala is accepting submissions on the proposal accompanied by €50 until October 25, 2019.

CONTACTS
Tony Lowes: 087 2176316
Irish language: David Healy 087 6178852

Submission to Minister
https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/Dursey/Dursey_Minister_141019.pdf

Development documentation referred to:
https://www.corkcoco.ie/en/news/dursey-island-cable-car-and-visitor-centre-development
Copyright © 2019 Friends of the Irish Environment, All rights reserved.
Press Release

Our mailing address is:
Friends of the Irish Environment
Kilcatherine
Eyeries, Cork P75 CX53
Ireland

Related Link: https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/fie-work/17713-7m-dursey-island-tourist-project-opposed-as-bird-levels-decline-by-30
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