02/03/2007

Funders join forces to enhance wildlife habitat

Regular visitors to the RSPB Reserve at Portmore Lough will have noticed that the wet fringe of scrub and bushes around the Lough is disappearing fast.

The bird hide that was once shrouded in willow and alder trees, can now be seen sitting proud above the reedbed.

Commenting on the work, RSPB Warden John Scovell said: "The scrub is being cut and removed as part of a major project to increase the variety of birds and insects around Portmore Lough and to restore a habitat that disappeared as a result of Lough Neagh being lowered.

"A sure sign of the success so far, is that we are already seeing threatened bird species such as Lapwing and Hen Harrier using marshland that was once covered in scrub and bushes."

Specialist contractors have been brought in to work on the project. Due to the waterlogged and thin shoreline crust, and so as not to damage the underlying vegetation, a special low ground pressure vehicle is being used, that can travel where a man cannot stand.

John continued: "If all goes to plan, the project will be completed by April 2008, resulting in an incredible transition for the reserve, delivering benefits for birds such as lapwing and snipe.

"Because the RSPB is a charity, we rely on the support of others to help us to carry out visionary projects like this one. This project has been made possible through the support of the Lough Neagh Partnership (funded by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development under the European Union Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity), Craigavon Borough Council and the Ulster Wildlife Trust's landfill community fund."

Gerry Darby from the Lough Neagh Partnership said: "Over the past five years, we have worked with the RSPB on a number of projects at Portmore Lough. The reserve has the potential to be one of the most important areas for wildlife in the Lough Neagh Wetlands and we are delighted to be able to support a project that will deliver huge biodiversity benefits for Portmore Lough and the extended Lough Neagh area."

For further information about how you can support the RSPB please contact a member of the fundraising development team on 028 9049 1547 or email michaela.clarke@rspb.org.uk.

(JM/SP)

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