Special Protection Areas

Published by: Heritage Council
Category: Arts
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Dataset owned and provided by NPWS.


Ireland is a special place for wild birds. We are at the end of major flyways of waterfowl migrating south for the winter from North America, Greenland, Iceland and the Arctic. In spring and summer, Ireland provides important breeding grounds for species from the continent of Europe or Africa. Our long coastlines provide safe breeding and wintering grounds for large numbers of seabirds. In addition we have resident species which are scarce or rare in other parts of Europe.

Because birds migrate long distances, it is not sufficient to protect them over just part of their range, so the EU Birds Directive provides for a network of sites in all Member States to protect birds at their breeding, feeding, roosting and wintering areas. It identifies species which are rare, in danger of extinction or vulnerable to changes in habitat and which need protection.

In Ireland, we have 25 of these species regularly occurring. They include Bewicks and Whooper Swan, Greenland White-Fronted and Barnacle Geese, Corncrake, Golden Plover, Bar-Tailed Godwit, five species of tern, birds of prey including Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Merlin as well as the Nightjar, Kingfisher and Chough.

Specific proposals to designate Special Protection Areas (SPAs) in order to safeguard certain habitats pursuant to EU Directive requirements were recently advertised in the local press and on local radio. These proposals are intended to safeguard the habitat of these selected sites.

The EU Birds Directive (79/409/EEC) requires designation of SPAs for: Listed rare and vulnerable species such as those mentioned above. Regularly occurring migratory species, such as ducks, geese and waders. Wetlands, especially those of international importance, which attract large numbers of migratory birds each year. (Internationally important means that 1% of the population of a species uses the site, or more than 20,000 birds regularly use the site.) 121 SPAs have been designated since 1985. 25 other sites enjoy legal protection and will shortly by designated as SPAs. However, further designations are required pursuant to the Birds Directive. The Minister will be publishing his proposals for the designation of additional sites on an on-going basis in Autumn 2007 and Spring 2008. It should be noted that many existing and future SPAs overlap with SACs. The Irish SPAs join a total of around 3,000 sites across the European Union.

Data Resources (1)

available as arcsde connection
Theme Arts
Date updated 2010-11-17
Rights notes ['Seek Permissions', 'Seek Permissions', 'otherRestrictions']
Language English
Geographic coverage in GeoJSON format {"type":"Polygon","coordinates":[[[-10.910022, 51.430462],[-10.910022, 55.452326], [-5.865924, 55.452326], [-5.865924, 51.430462], [-10.910022, 51.430462]]]}
Spatial Reference Systems (SRS) TM65 / Irish Grid (EPSG:29902)
Provenance information Dataset provided by NPWS. Dataset downloaded from NPWS 06th October 2010. For further information contact www.npws.ie.