That is according to new figures published by the Dept of Housing, Local Government and Heritage which show that the department spent a further €48,888 on the protection of a colony of Nesting Little Terns birds at Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow.
Concerning the ‘rat-kill’ spend, the Dept paid Envirico Ltd €52,300 in one contract for the nine month project concerning the ‘Rat Eradication Project’ on Great Saltee Island, Co Wexford.
The Dept paid Envirico Ltd in November 2020 a further €32,000 for field assistants to support the Rat Eradication Project over a three month period.
Prior to the eradication scheme the Great Saltee island was home to the invasive brown rat which was seen by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) as a threat to the local bird population which includes the puffin.
The NPWS state that recent work on seabird islands in the UK where rats have been eradicated show pronounced increases in breeding Puffin and Manx Shearwater numbers.
The new Dept of Heritage figures shows that it paid out a total of €82,888 for the protection of Little Tern bird colonies in Co Wexford and Co Wicklow.
The records of payments by the Dept of over €25,000 to third parties show that the Dept paid €48,888 Birdwatch Ireland for the protection of the nesting Little Tern colony at Kilcoole, Co Wicklow and €32,000 to David Daly for wardening services at Tern Nesting Colony in Wexford.
The Dept also paid Birdwatch Ireland €1 million for a 60 month long bird monitoring programme.
In another significant eco-outlay, the Dept paid Forest Oaks of Coolick, Kilcommen Co. Kerry €280,000 for a three month contract to control the invasive species, the Rhododendron Ponticum plant.
Co Monaghan company Allied Woodlands Ltd was paid €310,000 for the eradication of invasive plants at Glenveagh National Park in Co Kerry.
The €7.64m outlay also includes a spend of €178,250 on the fresh water pearl mussel.
Evelyn Moorkens & Associates scooped two contracts connected to the Fresh Water Pearl Mussel, one valued at
€110,600 on a 37 month long genetic study with a further €67,650 on an 18 month long Conservation Condition and Monitoring Review Study.
Authority on the mussel here, Dr Evelyn Moorkens has previously described the fresh water pearl mussel as “our tiger, our panda”.
Dr Moorkens stated: "They are a very special species. The mussel is both a keystone species – if you lose it, you will lose a whole series of species and it is an umbrella species in that it offers protection to everything else around it.”
The Dept figures show that a further €72,000 was paid to Hubert Servignat on the 23 month contract for the management of the Curlew Conservation Programme as part of the bid to halt the decline and extinction of breeding Curlews here.
A large proportion of the Department’s eco-spend in 2020 concerned protected bogs - RPS Ireland is being paid €1m for the three year long contract for ‘Planning Expertise for Relocation Sites for Turf Cutters’ while Bord Na Móna was paid €1.19m for the 12 month long contract for project management concerning the implementation of the Protected Raised Bog Restoration Programme.
The Dept is to also pay Bord na Mona an additional €1.2m for the 24 month long contract for ‘Peatlands Restoration and Maintenance Works on Protected Raised Bogs’.