Welcome to www.wetlands.ie. This website will try to bring you information about small freshwater wetlands in Ireland.
There are thousands of wetlands in Ireland, scattered all over the country. Some are large and some are very small. Many of the larger and more “important” wetlands have been identified and singled out for special protection, for example, under the objectives of the Ramsar Convention.
Ireland ratified the Ramsar Convention in 1985 and a total of 45 Irish wetlands, making up an area of almost 67,000 hectares (that’s the size of one-hundred Phoenix Parks!) in various parts of the country are specifically protected under the Ramsar Convention. If you would like to know some more about the World Wetlands Day, there is some great information about it on the Ramsar website, at this link.
But this website is not really concerned with larger, well protected wetlands. This site will focus on smaller, freshwater wetlands, which might not enjoy much protection by the authorities. By ‘small’ we mean wetlands with an area of less than 10 hectares. There are a great many of these wetlands all over the country, making up an area much larger than the total area of the larger wetlands protected under Ramsar. So, smaller wetlands should be seen as important too! Because many of the smaller wetlands are not protected in any formal way, they are at risk from drainage, pollution, development of lands for construction, road-making, reclamation of farmland and inappropriate uses such as dumping sites for wastes.
If you are interested in getting to know more about our wetlands and about their ecology and biodiversity you could check out the following publications.
Here is the press release related to the recent launch of the Wetlands Guide: https://www.chg.gov.ie/wetlands-guide-published-irish-wetlands-worth-e385m-to-the-economy/
The NPWS website news section:https://www.npws.ie/news/wetlands-guide-and-field-survey-manual-published
Biodiversity and Wetlands resources
EPA’s Biodiversity in our Wetlands resource for second-level schools: http://www.epa.ie/researchandeducation/education/educ/protectedsoilbiodiversity/biodiversityinourwetlands/
It’s pitched at 12-16 year old students, which means that the material could be suitable for the any interested member of the public who just wants to know the basics.
Online tool for Wetland Appropriate Assessment: http://www.epa.ie/newsandevents/news/pressreleases2018/name,64001,en.html
What is a small freshwater wetland?
There are lots of different types of wetlands. Some are very large, some are inundated with salt-water or with brackish water, others are under-water all the time and others are only “wet” at some times depending on the season or on the tides. Some are covered with peat and others are covered by forest. There are lots of definitions and not everyone will agree that a particular definition is accurate.
On this website we will use the following definition, just so everyone knows what type of wetlands we are interested in:
Areas of land, less than 10 hectares in extent, which are inundated or saturated by fresh surface water or groundwater at a frequency and for a duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions.
This definition is based on an important definition adopted by the US Government under the Clean Water Act (1984), but our definition is modified to eliminate larger wetlands and to eliminate wetlands that depend on saltwater.
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