|EU Protected Areas|
|The cultural and natural heritage of the European landscape has been shaped over the centuries by the people living there. However, more recent human pressures such as invasive species, climate change, fragmentation of the natural landscape and increasing demand on natural resources threaten this diverse heritage. As a means of preserving natural heritage, the European Union has established networks of protected areas, such as Natura 2000, the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats and the EU Freshwater Fish Directive. Each country within the EU is responsible for meeting the requirements set out by the various regulations.|
Some 42,000 natural heritage areas in Europe covering 14.15% of the land surface and 2.71% of the sea area are designated for protection. The establishment of these protected areas helps in preserving ecosystems, species, genetic varieties and ecological processes. They have been developed under the Natura 2000 network for European Union (EU) countries, the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Berne Convention), and the Emerald network for European countries that are not members of the EU. In Ireland protected areas are identified, designated and conserved to establish a network of nationally important sites (NHAs, ASSIs) and, under the Natura 2000 network, sites that are important within the European Community (SACs and SPAs). In many cases an area gains additional protection status if it is considered important on both a national and European level.
Natura 2000: SACs and SPAs
The designation of sites is a time consuming and complex procedure. Essentially the designation of a site requires notifying landowners and advertising through local media near the site under consideration. Objections to the designation have to be on scientific grounds and must be formally transmitted within three months of publication. The Minister must then consider the objection before deciding to enact the designation or not.
Special Areas of Conservation
The EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) was transposed into Irish law in 1997 through the European Communities Regulations on Natural Habitats. In Northern Ireland the Directive was implemented in 1995 with the Conservation Regulations on Natural Habitats for Northern Ireland.
The Directive requires EU Member States to designate Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) to protect habitats and species that are listed in the Annexes of the Directive. Ireland contains sixty of the listed habitat types, sixteen of which are on the priority list. Twenty-five species are listed. Four hundred and twenty SACs are proposed for designation in the Republic of Ireland and 53 sites in Northern Ireland.
Special Protection Areas
The bird species are listed in the Annexes of the Directive, which was transposed into Irish law in 1985. In Northern Ireland SPAs are protected under national legislation as Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) before they are classified as SPAs.
Many SPAs are coastal and freshwater wetlands. Several sites are seabird colonies. Under the Directive, SPAs are designated when:
The EU Freshwater Fish Directive (78/659/EEC) designates surface waters for protection and improvement to support fish populations. The Directive was transposed into Irish law in 1988 through the European Communities Regulation on Quality of Salmonid Waters (S.I. No. 293/1988). The Regulation designates waters in order to protect and improve “Salmonid Waters.” Salmonid waters must be able to sustain Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), trout (Salmo trutta), char (Salvelinus) and whitefish (Coregonus).
In Northern Ireland more than 50 hectares have been designated as either salmonid (suitable for game fish) or cyprinid (suitable for coarse fish) waters under the EU Freshwater Fish Directive. This area includes 20 standing waters and approximately 4300km of rivers and canals.
|Spatial Data Sources|
| The following are suggested
sources for geospatial data related to the topic:
MIDA: For viewing the distribution of SACs and SPAs in the Republic and Northern Ireland.
National Parks and Wildlife Service: Find downloadable GIS-ready data for Protected Areas in the Republic of Ireland here, available by county.
Environment and Heritage Service: Find downloadable GIS-ready data for Protected Areas in Northern Ireland here.
the following links to find more information concerning EU protected areas:
Protected Areas (NPWS): This link gives information on the protected areas in the Republic of Ireland provided by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
SPA Information (EHS): This link connects to the Environment and Heritage Service website and gives information on the Special Protection Areas in Northern Ireland.
SAC Information (EHS): This link connects to the Environment and Heritage Service website and provides information on the Special Areas of Conservation in Northern Ireland.
Natura 2000 Information (Teagasc): This link leads to information on Natura 2000 sites in Ireland from Teagasc - the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority.
NCTE on Nature: The National Centre for Technology in Education provides useful information on EU legislation and designation of protected areas in Ireland.
IUCN on EU Protected Areas: This links to information on EU protected areas given by the World Conservation Union.
The Convention on Biological Diversity: View national reports regarding the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The Irish Statute Book - Salmonid Waters: This link connects to the Irish legislation on Salmonid Waters.
Environmental Information Service: This link presents information on Biogenetic Reserves in Europe.
references were used to create the atlas pages on this topic:
Zupancic-Vicar, M., The Heritage Council, Policies and Priorities for Ireland's Landscape, Paper 2. Protected Landscapes And Parks For Life - Action Plan For Protected Areas in Europe. [site visited 21/10/2005]
World Conservation Union, Protected Areas In Europe: IUCN’s programme for 2005-2008. [site visited 21/10/2005].
National Botanic Gardens of Ireland. Chapter 7 Legislation. [Site visited 21/10/2005]
United Nations Environment Programme, 1972 to 2002. Fact Sheet: Global Environment Outlook - 3, Europe. [Site visited 24/10/2005]
Mapture: NATURA 2000 Database for the Irish Sea INTERREG IIIA Region. [Site visited 24/10/2005]
Keena, C., Teagasc, NATURA 2000 - Sites in Ireland. [Site visited 24/10/2005]
Irish Statute Book, 1988, European Communities (Quality of Salmonid Waters) Regulations. [Site visited 26/10/2005]
Ó Riain, G., Duff, K. and Long, M., Environmental Protection Agency, 2005, Water Framework Directive – Water Status: Identification and Ranking of Nature Conservation Designated Areas - Final Report. [Site visited 26/10/2005]
Environmental Information Service, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 2005, International Conventions and Agreements on the Environment - The European Network of Biogenetic Reserves (1976). [Site visited 26/10/2005]
Environment and Heritage Service, Special Protection Areas, Northern Ireland. [Site visited 26/10/2005]
Environment and Heritage Service, Special Areas of Conservation, [Site visited 26/10/2005]
National Parks and Wildlife Service, 2004, Special Protection Areas. [Site visited 26/10/2005]
National Parks and Wildlife Service,2005, Special Areas of Conservation. [Site visited 26/10/2005]