LIFE Project Cover Photo

Improving Corncrake conservation status in Ireland by the enhancement of the SPA network and surrounding farmland

Reference: LIFE18 NAT/IE/000090 | Acronym: LIFE Atlantic Crex



The project is taking place in the West and North-West of Ireland focussing on nine SPAs (eight project sites spanning over 4 300 hectares) and will target the Annex I species Corncrake (Crex Crex). The most recent assessment of Corncrakes in Ireland notes an 85% decrease in population since 1978 and a 92% decrease in range. The major causes of the dramatic deterioration in conservation condition since the 1970s are the move from haymaking to silage, the homogenisation of agricultural enterprises, increased fertiliser applications, reseeding of semi-natural grasslands, the use of larger, more efficient machinery, and increased exposure to predation. There is an urgent need to reverse this decline by improving the efficacy of a variety of conservation measures to enhance the status of the Corncrake.


The overall objective of the project is to improve the conservation status in Ireland of the Corncrake by the enhancement of the SPA network and surrounding farmland. The specific objectives are to:

  • secure landowner cooperation and local community involvement and support;
  • improve targeting and delivery of effective conservation measures, underpinned by science;
  • improve management regimes for Corncrake in the project sites;
  • create areas of earlyand late cover (ELC) for Corncrakes;
  • improve knowledge exchange with farmers and planners in the project sites; and
  • promote the Corncrake as an asset for local areas and communities.
  • LIFE Atlantic Crex will contribute to the implementation of the EU policy and legislation in the area of nature and biodiversity. It will also support the Natura 2000 network by developing integrated approaches to implement the Prioritised Action Framework for Ireland.


    Expected results:

  • an improvement in habitat condition conducive to a Corncrake population increase in the medium to longer term;
  • site-specific conservation objectives for nine SPAs;
  • a Corncrake results-based scoring system which will be piloted to identify the most appropriate means of rewarding farmer effort;
  • around 50ha of land purchased for targeted Corncrake management;
  • around1 000ha under Corncrake management regimes;
  • trial of various ELC species using the habitat scorecard;
  • a MSc thesis using ELC monitoring results which will inform new best practice guidelines for quality ELC creation and maintenance;
  • a PhD which will provide scientific underpinning of precision environmental management for Corncrake based on passive acoustic monitoring and thermal imaging.

    Reference: LIFE18 NAT/IE/000090
    Acronym: LIFE Atlantic Crex
    Start Date: 01/01/2020
    End Date: 31/12/2025
    Total Budget: 5,894,895 €
    EU Contribution: 4,296,171 €
    Project Location:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH)
    Legal Status: PAT
    Address: Custom House, Custom House Quay, D01 W6X0, Dublin, Ireland
    Contact Person: Claire COOPER

    LIFE Project Map



    • Birds
    • Grasslands


    • grassland ecosystem
    • protected area


    • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directive (21.05.1992)
    • Directive 79/409 - Conservation of wild birds (02.04.1979)
    • COM(2011) 244 final “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020” (03.05.2011)


    Name Type
    DAFM(Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine), Ireland Participant
    GMIT(Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology), Ireland Participant
    ÚnaG(Údarás na Gaeltachta), Ireland Participant
    FWP(Fota Wildlife Park), Ireland Participant