Special Areas of Conservation

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Information about Special Areas of Conservation
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Published on December 28, 2007

Author: Woofer

Source: authorstream.com

Slide1:  The Water Framework Directive takes account of areas which are protected under other EU Directives. Protected Areas for nature conservation include: SACs - HABITATS DIRECTIVE SPAs - BIRDS DIRECTIVE NHA/pNHAs - WILDLIFE ACT Because of climate, geology and geomorphology, and hydrology, a large part of the WRBD contains protected habitats, plants and animals. Slide2:  The Habitats Directive lists the rare habitats which need protection in Annex 1. The most important are listed as Priority Annex 1 habitats. Rare plants and animals are listed in Annex 2. Although all habitats, plants and animals need water, some particularly depend on it. 46 different Annex 1 and Priority Annex 1 habitats which occur in Ireland have been identified as water dependent. 41 of these occur in the Western River Basin District. As the map shows, most of the SACs in the WRBD contain Priority Annex 1 listed water dependent habitats. PRIORITY HABITATS:  PRIORITY HABITATS GROUND WATER DEPENDENT HABITATS Turloughs Petrifying springs with tufa formation Calcareous fens with Cladium mariscus Turloughs and calcareous fens can have surface water inputs as well as ground water. PRIORITY HABITATS:  PRIORITY HABITATS PRECIPITATION DEPENDENT HABITATS Active raised bog Active blanket bog Bog woodland (this can have surface and ground water inputs also) PRIORITY HABITATS:  PRIORITY HABITATS SURFACE WATER DEPENDENT HABITATS Alluvial forests with Alder and Ash There can be ground water inputs too. PRIORITY HABITATS:  PRIORITY HABITATS COASTAL HABITATS Coastal lagoons Fixed dunes Machair These habitats depend on coastal geomorphological processes to maintain them, and usually depend on several water sources: coastal, transitional, surface and ground water. OTHER WATER DEPENDENT ANNEX 1 HABITATS:  OTHER WATER DEPENDENT ANNEX 1 HABITATS Non – priority Annex 1 listed habitats range from Sub-tidal, estuarine, shore, saltmarsh, and vegetated cliff habitats Dystrophic, acid oligotrophic, hard water oligo-mesotrophic, and naturally eutrophic lakes Some types of river plant communities Some types of marsh, swamp, grassland, and bog habitats Wet heath THERE ARE 122 SACs IN THE WESTERN RIVER BASIN DISTRICT.:  THERE ARE 122 SACs IN THE WESTERN RIVER BASIN DISTRICT. Most SACs are large complexes which include different water dependent habitats and species, which depend on different sources of water. The habitats and/or species for which most SACs are designated depend on several different sources of water (coastal, transitional, surface, ground, and precipitation). Most habitats protected under the Habitats Directive are naturally nutrient poor (oligotrophic). Background water chemistry can vary within individual SACs in relation to the underlying geology, for example the Lough Carra/Mask and the Lough Corrib SACs include areas overlying acid granite, as well as areas over Carboniferous limestone. The next map summarises the 122 SACs in the WRBD into broad groups, based on the main area and conservation importance of water dependent habitats, or species, present in them. Remember that this is a simplification, aimed at presenting an overview of the range of habitats present, and that more detailed information is available for each individual SAC. Main water source in individual SACs:  Main water source in individual SACs Coastal This group of SACs includes Annex 1 listed reef and vegetated sea cliff habitats, occurring on rocky shores and islands, and marine sub-tidal habitats. Annex listed birds include breeding seabirds, wintering waterfowl (mainly Barnacle geese), and resident chough. Potential/existing impacts - may include dredging, aquaculture, aquatic discharges. Some of the low-lying islands used by annex listed birds may be vulnerable to climate change impacts due to rising sea levels and storm surges. Main water source in individual SACs:  Main water source in individual SACs Coastal complex These complex sites include significant areas of soft shore, and are dependent on coastal geomorphological processes for their maintenance. Priority listed habitats in these complexes are fixed dune and machair developed on sand, and lagoon separated from the sea by a shingle or gravel barrier. Annexed habitats include intertidal mudflats and sandflats, saltmarsh, sand dune habitats, and lakes. Water sources influencing these habitats are coastal, transitional, surface and ground. Small areas of precipitation dependent habitats may also occur in some sites where a natural transition to wet heath or bog is included in a designated site. Annexed flora and fauna also occur. Water dependent bird species in coastal complex sites include breeding seabirds, wintering waterfowl, corncrake and chough. Potential/existing impacts - coastal complex sites have a wide range of vulnerabilities, across all water sources. A number of habitats are vulnerable to erosion, both through land use impacts including agriculture and recreation, and through coastal processes and climate change impacts. Implications for existing infrastructure maintenance, and planning issues, arise in some sites where erosion and flooding risks are greatest, currently and in the medium and longer term, with regard to climate change impacts. Nutrient enrichment and water abstraction issues arise and are noted for some sites, as most of the coastal complex terrestrial water dependent habitats are naturally oligotrophic and some are also sensitive to changes in hydrological status Main water source in individual SACs:  Main water source in individual SACs Surface water Surface water dependent habitats include a wide range of river and lake types, with varying natural trophic status and water chemistry. The Unshin River SAC is the finest example of an un-drained lowland river in Ireland, with an exceptionally diverse river channel and marginal flora influenced in places both by groundwater and by peatland habitats, and is an annexed habitat. Water quality issues have been identified for this catchment, with evidence of eutrophication. In contrast the Moy and Corrib channels and catchment floodplains have been extensively modified hydrologically by drainage schemes, while water quality is also problematic for the conservation interests of the sites. Many surface water systems include habitat for Annex 2 Habitats Directive listed species of fauna, including lamprey, crayfish, and freshwater pearl mussel (see Precipitation dependent habitats below). Annex 1 Birds Directive listed bird species include corncrake and wintering waterfowl. Lough Corrib is the only SPA in the Western River Basin District to qualify for international importance for the overall numbers of wintering waterfowl (>20,000 birds). Potential/existing impacts – water quality and quantity are both issues for these SACs and habitats, but this does vary between individual sites, habitats and species. Annex 1 Habitats Directive listed Freshwater pearl-mussel has the highest water quality requirement of 4.5 to 5 BQI. Non-annexed water dependent habitats including wet grassland, reedswamp and marsh habitats occur within the range of seasonal variation in water level in floodplain areas, and are important for flood storage as well as for their nutrient load capacity. Detailed potential/existing impacts remain to be identified for individual sites and species Main water source in individual SACs:  Main water source in individual SACs Ground water Ground water dependent priority habitats include turlough, petrifying springs with tufa formation, and calcareous fen. In addition to individual turlough and fen sites, they are also a component of a habitat complex with limestone pavement, a non-water dependent Annex 1 habitat, for example at Black Head Poulsallagh, Moneen Mountain, and the East Burren Complex SACs. Annexed habitats in which ground water makes a significant contribution include a number of lake habitats, in particular limestone/marl lakes such as Lough Arrow and the Lough Carra/Mask Complex. Ground water dependent habitats occur mainly in Carboniferous limestone, but also in coastal complex sites, and are generally oligotrophic. Annexed flora and fauna species occur. It should be noted that ground water dependent habitats also occur within bog and wet heath sites, where mineral water seepage and springs give rise to flush plant communities and enhance biodiversity within individual sites. The Annex 2 listed snail Vertigo geyeri occurs in some of these habitats. Annexed bird and invertebrate fauna species also occur in SACs in which ground water is the main water source. Potential/existing impacts – ground water dependent habitats are at risk to anthropogenic variation in water quantity and quality in both ground and surface waters. The Lough Carra/Mask SAC is adversely impacted by inflowing surface water quality. Existing drainage schemes, in the Clare and Corrib catchments for example, appear to have modified a number of turlough habitats to the extent that they are designated as NHAs rather than at the higher level of SAC that would be expected for a priority Annex 1 listed habitat. A number of ‘dry’ turloughs occur in this area, although a range of turlough types are also designated which include peat-forming habitats and transition mire, and there are also a number of raised bog NHA designations. Main water source in individual SACs:  Main water source in individual SACs Mountain complex Four SACs in Sligo and Leitrim have been grouped as mountain complex. The main habitat cover in these sites is often non-water dependent dry heath and grassland habitats, but precipitation dependent wet heaths and bogs also occur extensively at Ben Bulben and in Arroo. Gound water dependent priority listed petrifying springs with tufa formation habitat occurs in all mountain complex sites in association with limestone strata. Potential/existing impacts – to be identified, include mining Precipitation dependent sites Priority listed active raised bog and blanket bog habitats contribute in varying proportion to land cover in these sites. Annex listed wet heath, bog habitats, dystrophic and acid oligotrophic lake habitats also occur. Most sites in this group contain significant flush habitats indicating ground water seepage and springs. Some downstream catchments have populations of Annex listed fresh-water pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera, a very long lived species in which most populations are non-breeding, and which is extremely sensitive to water quality, requiring a BQI of 4.5-5. Potential/existing impacts – many sites in this group have been damaged by turbary, drainage, afforestation, and/or overgrazing. Pressures on precipitation dependent habitats may result in downstream impacts including altered hydrological regime, increased flashiness, flood risk and peat silt load, with a risk of ponding with associated water quality and reduced flow impacts during dry spells. Water quality issues also arise. Targeted monitoring should provide information relevant to habitat management planning and audit for protected sites and species, as well as to water management issues downstream. SUMMARY OF CONSERVATION DESIGNATIONS:  SUMMARY OF CONSERVATION DESIGNATIONS

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