Tramore Backstrand, Co. Waterford
A total of 45 sites have been identified as Ramsar sites in Ireland. These are wetlands that are of significant value for nature. The sites are illustrated on the map below, with other Natura 2000 designated sites, and further details are summarised on the menu to the right. Further information about Ramsar and Ireland’s sites is available here.
Low–lying areas of empoldered farmland dissected by numerous drainage ditches created by draining an estuarine embayment. Water levels are controlled for irrigation and flood prevention. The site forms part of the world′s most important wintering site for the vulnerable goose Anser albifrons flavirostris (world population about 30,000), which nests in Greenland, stages in Iceland and winters in Ireland and the UK. The average count of A. a. flavirostris wintering at the site is 32% of the world population. Several other passage and wintering waterbirds use the site.
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A sand–dune spit protecting Wexford Harbour from the sea. The tip is highly mobile, with constantly changing patterns of recurves, lagoons and sand bars. The unforested foredunes support a well–developed native vegetation, including various nationally rare species. The site provides important roosting sites for passage terns and supports a small nesting colony of the tern Sterna albifrons. Internationally important numbers of the globally vulnerable goose Anser albifrons flavirostris winter at the site and large numbers of waders roost at high tide. The site is managed for timber.
An excellent example of highland blanket bog, a nationally rare bog type, covering low hills and broad basins and containing numerous nutrient poor and acidic lakes and pools. The site is a traditional feeding and roosting site for a wintering flock of the globally vulnerable goose Anser albifrons flavirostris and a breeding site for Pluvialis apricaria. Summer sheep grazing is controlled.
The largest and most intact area of mountain blanket bog known in Ireland. Features include areas of well–developed hummock, hollow and pool systems. Vegetation consists of a dwarf shrub and herb layer and extensive cover of Sphagnum moss. An absence of rock outcrops limits species and habitat diversity, except in valleys where seepage areas and streams provide increased nutrients.
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Part of the most extensive remaining blanket bog complex in Ireland, the site includes lowland and mountain blanket bog, wet heath and cliffs in the surrounding lowlands. There are several mountain valley lakes and rock basin lakes with many pool complexes. Unimproved grassland and numerous wetland vegetation types occur along watercourses. The site supports a small wintering flock of the globally vulnerable goose Anser albifrons flavirostris and a nesting population of Pluvialis apricaria.
Part of an extensive area of undulating lowland blanket bog consisting of domes, pool complexes, flushes, spring–fed fens, swallowholes and subterranean and surface streams. Vegetation includes Sphagnum species and many species of sedges and mosses. The wetter domes and flushes are a feeding site for the wintering globally vulnerable goose Anser albifrons flavirostris.
Part of an extensive area of lowland blanket bog with a remarkably dense network of pools and small acidic lakes. The valleys and flushes are floristically rich owing to an absence of burning and grazing. The peat is relatively dry between water bodies and has a well–developed cover. Unusual features include the presence of small stands of Betula pubescens and the rare moss Homalothecium nitens.
The site, adjacent to the Meenachullion Bog site, is part of the most extensive and intact area of lowland blanket bog in northwest Ireland. The site includes numerous small pool complexes and flushes and remnants of native deciduous woodland dominated by Quercus petraea. Breeding birds include Falco columbarius and Pluvialis apricaria, and a wintering flock of the globally vulnerable goose Anser albifrons flavirostris.
A small island built up over 200 years against a harbour wall and the adjoining foreshore of sandy beaches, saltmarshes and mudflats. The site is unique in Ireland because it supports well-developed saltmarsh and dune systems displaying all stages of development from the earliest phase of colonization to full maturity. The site supports five protected or threatened plant species and nationally important populations of three insect species. The area is important for nesting Sterna albifrons (80 pairs, or about 30% of the Irish population) and for numerous species of wintering waterbirds. Human activities include bait digging.
A small tidal embayment sheltered from the sea by a broad sand and shingle spit. Extensive areas of mud, sand and gravel are exposed at low tide. The mudflats support beds of green algae (Enteromorpha,) and Spartina anglica. Numerous species of large numbers of wintering waterbirds use the tidal flats and the site is internationally important for Branta bernicla hrota. Human activities include bait–digging and shellfish collection.
A tidal embayment separated from the sea by a major sand dune system. Vast mudflats are exposed at low tide and there are extensive beds of Spartina. The site is internationally important for the wintering goose Branta bernicla hrota, and nationally important numbers of various species of waterbirds use the site. Human activities include bait digging, shooting, and low levels of recreational boating and fishing.
One of the largest raised bogs left in Ireland. The site consists of hummocks, hollows, pools and Sphagnum lawns and is unique in the degree of development and varieties of the soak systems present. Soak systems are now almost extinct due to peat extraction. The site is important for several nationally rare mosses and invertebrates. Human activities include conservation education and, outside the reserve, peat extraction continues.
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An excellent example of a Midland raised bog with several special features. The central part is unusually wet and has a particularly pronounced pattern of hummocks, pools and lawns, suggesting that this area is still growing. The bog supports various rare plants or plants with a limited distribution in Ireland. The site is internationally important for wintering the globally vulnerable goose Anser albifrons flavirostris.
This classic example of a Midland raised bog developed in a small basin on the catchment divide between two major river systems. The peat, 15m in places, makes it the deepest known raised bog in Ireland. Vegetation is typical, with a good cover of Sphagnum mosses, but the formerly extensive hummock and hollow system is reduced due to conversion to agricultural land.
A shallow embayment fringed by sandy beaches and protected from the sea by a rocky promontory and sand spits. The site includes a compound spit of a series of pebble beaches and sand dunes and extensive saltmarsh and mudflats. This complex of habitats is of considerable geomorphological and botanical interest. The mudflats support one of the four largest areas of Zostera (Z. noltii and Z. angustifolia) in Ireland. In winter the reserve supports internationally important numbers of the goose Branta bernicla hrota and various other waterbirds.
The estuary of two rivers at the head of Dingle Bay and a complex of mudflats, sandbanks, and saltmarshes protected from the sea by extensive dunes. The mudflats support one of the four largest Zostera beds in Ireland providing food for various species of wintering waterbirds, including internationally important numbers of the goose Branta bernicla hrota.
The area forms the headwaters of the Cowagh River and consists of a plateau covered with highland blanket bog, and the steep slopes of the Ox Mountains, covered by wet heath and mountain blanket bog. Habitat diversity is high, with both rock and peat-based lakes, flushes, streams, pools, heath slopes and very wet, quaking areas. The site forms part of the range of a small wintering flock of the globally vulnerable goose Anser albifrons flavirostris.
The site contains the best example in Ireland of an alluvial forest ecosystem. The area is characterized by numerous wooded islands, separated by a network of stream channels. Vegetation includes rich growths of submerged aquatic plants and alluvial grasslands supporting a nationally important wintering flock of Cygnus cygnus.
Part of a low–lying karstic limestone area characterized by a subterranean drainage system and seasonal lakes, known as turloughs, set in a matrix of woodland, limestone heath and grassland. The site and adjacent nutrient–poor lakes are the most important turlough complex in Ireland. Many rare species of flora and fauna and communities associated with the turlough to woodland transition are supported. Water levels fluctuate widely. The lakes are fringed by aquatic vegetation grading into grassland, tall grass and herb communities and, beyond the level of summer flooding, into scrub and high forest.
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The largest remaining spring-fed fen in Ireland. Habitats include semi-natural fen, damp grassland, woodland, and open water. The open water attracts waterbirds in regionally important numbers. The fen supports an important assemblage of invertebrate fauna and contains a complete palaeoecological record dating back to the last glaciation. Interpretive material and an observation hide are available.
An area of lowland blanket bog and part of the headwaters of a major tributary of the Gweebarra River. The blanket bog grades into wet grassy heath and includes fenland and several small pool and lake complexes. Various breeding birds use the site and a small flock of the globally vulnerable goose Anser albifrons flavirostris occurs in winter.
The site includes a mobile shingle beach and a series of three wetlands dominated by reed and marsh vegetation. It supports nationally, regionally or locally important numbers of numerous species of waterbirds. The site is also notable for its large numbers of rare migrant birds that breed in the phragmites beds. Human activities include livestock grazing.
An estuary of intertidal sand and mudflats flanked by reclaimed marshy fields and saltmarsh, sheltered by a stabilized shingle bar and extensive sandy beach. Internationally important numbers of waterbirds winter at the site and up to 106 wetland species use it. The marshy fields are important feeding areas for various species of waterbirds. Human activities include intensive agricultural use, cattle grazing, and silage.
An intertidal system supporting a large bed of eelgrass (Zostera noltii) with extensive areas of sandflats. The site is important for various species of waterbirds, supporting internationally important numbers of Brent Geese and large numbers of roosting gulls and terns. Various species of annalids, bivalves and small gastropods occur. Bait-digging is a regular activity on the sandy flats.
An estuary cut off from the sea by a large sand spit. The site includes well-developed saltmarshes, salt meadows, rocky shores, a well-developed outer dune ridge and sand mudflats exposed at low tide. Vegetation consists of a large bed of eelgrass (Zostera noltii and Z. angustifolium) and extensive mats of green algae (Enteromorpha spp., Ulva lactuca). The estuary is an important wintering site for numerous species of waterbirds. The Brent goose population is of international importance. The high numbers of diving birds reflects the lagoon-type nature of the inner estuary. Human activities include water sports. There is a marina and some housing.
An open sea bay with extensive saltmarshes, intertidal sand and mudflats encompassing the estuaries of the four rivers. The intertidal flats support a rich fauna of bivalve molluscs, marine worms and crustaceans that provide the main food source for tens of thousands of waterbirds. The site is internationally important for waterbirds regularly holding over 20,000 birds and supporting over 1% of the Northwest European/East Atlantic Flyway populations of numerous species of waterbirds. The saltmarshes are partially fenced and grazed by sheep and are used as high-tide roosts.
A shingle spit across a shallow bay with well–developed dunes and back strands that dry out at low tide. All major vegetation types are found from strand flora, through mobile dunes to stable grassland and saltmarsh. The flora is particularly rich, consisting of various protected species. The site supports nationally and internationally important numbers of shorebirds. Human activities include cockle collection.
The Blackwater River estuary includes well-developed marsh communities, numerous dry woodlands, sedges and reedbeds. The site supports large numbers of various species of wintering waterbirds and a high population of otter. Human activities include reed harvesting for thatch.
A harbour consisting of several limestone basins separated from the sea and from each other by sandstone ridges. The harbour is impounded and so is no longer tidal. Vegetation is dominated by rushes and includes algae, wet woodland, and wet grassland. The site supports various breeding waterbirds, internationally important numbers of wintering and spring staging waterbirds, and provides important feeding areas for waders. Human activities include industrial and urban development, recreation and shooting.
The shallow sheltered part of a large sea bay with numerous intertidal inlets and small low islands composed of glacial deposits. The area provides important habitat for marine life along Ireland’s west coast. The site supports the richest seaweed flora on the Irish Coast (500+ species) and 65% of the Irish marine algal flora occur in the area. The site supports internationally and nationally important numbers of numerous species of waterbirds. There is a large cormorant colony on Deer Island. Human activities include aquaculture.
A coastal bay sheltered by a spit, exposing extensive mud and sand flats at low tide. The site includes beach and dune systems, salt and freshwater marsh. Internationally important numbers of wintering waterbirds use the site and nationally or locally important numbers of numerous other species are supported. The sand flats support extensive oyster farming.
A sea bay with extensive mud and sand flats, saltmarsh, and sand dunes. The site supports an important range of wintering waterbird species, including Anas acuta, Calidris canutus, Pluvialis squatarola. It is a habitat for internationally important numbers (938) of Brent geese Branta bernicla hrota.
A sheltered sea bay with no large rivers entering it. The sandy mud supports relatively small numbers of birds but there is a large variety in species including (518) Barnacle geese Branta leucopsis, (210) Brent geese B. bernicla hrota, and Charadrius hiaticula.
An estuarine arm of Sligo bay, made famous by poet W. B. Yeats, with mudflats and sandflats. Important arrival point for Brent geese Branta bernicla and also has internationally important numbers of Charadrius hiaticula.
An estuary and intertidal bay separated from the sea by a long sandy island. The site includes a well-developed dune system, saltmarsh, sand and shingle beaches backed by sea-cliffs, and extensive sand and mudflats exposed at low tide. The dunes support a rich and diverse flora that includes several rare or threatened plants. The intertidal flats provide important feeding sites for birds. Brent geese overwinter in the bay in internationally important numbers, and regionally or locally important numbers of several species of waterbirds use the site. Human activities include beach activities, salmon fishing and livestock grazing. There is a golf course situated on the dune complex.
A composite of diverse marine and coastal habitats that includes vast dune systems and extensive areas of dune grassland with saltmarshes occurring in sheltered bays and inlets. The grasslands are of considerable botanical importance. The site also includes several brackish lakes important to various species of breeding waders, large numbers of wintering waterbirds of various species, and internationally important numbers of Brent geese.
Two small lakes set amongst heavily farmed land, with a low-lying floodplain of wet grassland and rough grazing. Vegetation consists of emergent plants, rushes, reeds, a fen-like community and a well-established hazel woodland. The site supports internationally and nationally important numbers of various species of waterbirds.
The second largest lake in Ireland supports one of the largest areas of wetland vegetation consisting of reed, sedge and rush communities in the country. Other habitats include Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea) woodland, calcareous fen, callows grassland, marsh and raised bog with a soak system. The site provides important feeding grounds for waterbirds and supports internationally important numbers of several breeding and wintering waterbirds and nationally important numbers of numerous other waterbird species. The site supports the otter and numerous rare and threatened plant and fish species. Human activities include fishing and hunting.
A raised or cutaway bog with a shallow, alkaline lake and extensive reedbeds and swamps. Vegetation includes various aquatic plants dominated by reeds and sedges, several of which have a restricted distribution in Ireland, and deciduous woodland composed of native species. The site supports nationally important numbers of several species of waterbirds and provides valuable habitat for otter. Human activities include fishing, hunting, canoeing and water sports.
A large, steep–sided lake fringed by calcareous grassland, wet marshy areas, reedbeds and mixed woodland. The site is of significance as a highly productive lake rich in its range of lower plants and invertebrate species. Its lakeshore habitats provide important refuges for waterbirds, as well as supporting rare or endemic flora.
A lake dominated by freshwater marsh and including reedswamp, wet and dry grassland vegetation, cutaway bog colonized by heath vegetation, scrub, wet willow woodland, exposed rock and fen. The site supports large numbers of Dabbling ducks and internationally significant numbers of Whooper swan.
The site, a long narrow lake with fringing marsh and woodlands surrounded by intensively farmed agricultural land, is one of the most important waterbird sites in the midlands. In addition to supporting large numbers of snipe and duck, there are internationally important numbers of Greenland White–fronted geese and Whooper swans wintering at the site that feed on the surrounding farmland. The marsh areas support numerous rare plant species.
One of the best examples of a large, spring–fed calcareous lake in Ireland. The lake and fringing wetlands support an outstanding array of rare plant species as well as bird and fish populations of considerable interest. Adjacent farmland are feeding grounds for internationally important numbers of the Greenland White–fronted goose. Human activities include intense fishing pressure and boating.
The site includes a shallow limestone lake fed by two rivers, low–lying islands, peatland and raised bog. Vegetation consists of extensive reed and sedge swamps, scrub, and small stands of birch (Betula pubescens) woodland. Internationally important numbers of Greenland White–fronted geese overwinter at the site and several other species of waterbirds can be found.
Set in a lowland drumlin, the site is a complicated system including 70 interdrumlin lakes and numerous basins along the Erne River. The site includes open water, adjacent floodplain and drumlin slopes on islands, and isolated headlands. Vegetation includes well–developed swamp and marsh communities and deciduous woodland. Regularly flooded areas support various rare and specialist plant species. Substantial populations of waterbirds, including internationally important numbers of Whooper swan and nationally important numbers of tufted duck and cormorant, are supported. The wintering Whooper swan population represents 3% of the total European population.