HNV Farming & Biodiversity

Southwest Ulster and North Connacht (Ireland)

Natura site name: Dunragh Loughs / Pettigo Plateau, Pettigoe Plateau
Natura Code: IE0001125, UK9020051

Lying in the northwest corner of Ireland and straddling two provinces, Ulster and Connacht, this agricultural area high in semi-natural vegetation has been farmed since Neolithic times. It includes parts of counties Cavan, Donegal, Fermanagh, Leitrim and Sligo and is divided by the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
It includes the terraced escarpments separated by deep glens of the Benbulbin range, the interlacement of drumlins and water of the Lough Erne lowland, the karstic phenomena of the Cavan/Fermanagh limestone grasslands and the Atlantic blanket bogs of south Donegal and Fermanagh.
Text & Photos: P. McGurn

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Hill Sheep

Hill Sheep

The majority of the sheep are in the upland areas. In most hill sheep systems, lambs are sold at weaning for finishing in the lowland sector. Often, ewe lambs from the hill sheep are used for breeding in the lowland sector.

Suckler cows

Suckler cows

Spring calving beef cows are an important enterprise in the mountain areas with the calves sold in the autumn. Historically the cows were housed in byres during the winter, but are now mainly wintered in slatted housing.

Forestry and wind farms

Forestry and wind farms

The poor economics of farming marginal agricultural areas has lead to alternative uses for peatland areas. Large areas have been planted with coniferous trees leading to a very fragmented landscape. In more recent years there has been a rise in the number of wind farms in the area.

Rhododendron

Rhododendron

Rhododendron, a non-native species in Ireland, thrives in the milder, wet climatic conditions and poor acidic soils. It poses a severe threat to the natural vegetation. Whilst the plant is poisonous to livestock, grazing has a negative impact on its establishment and plays an important role in reducing the rate of spread of Rhododendron.

Blanket Bogs (7130)

Blanket Bogs (7130)

Blanket bog occurs on lowlands and uplands of Ireland’s Alantic coast. The Pettigo Plateau straddled between Donegal and Fermanagh is a fine example of extensive lowland blanket bog. A notable floristic feature of the site is the abundance of purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea and black bog-rush Schoenus nigricans.

North Atlantic Wet Heaths (4010)

North Atlantic Wet Heaths (4010)

Wet heath is widespread in the upland areas often forming a mosaic with other habitat types. It occurs on areas with relatively shallow peat (30-80cm) and fluctuating water tables rather than permanently water logged soils.

Dry Heath (4030)

Dry Heath

Fine examples of Dry heath can be seen on some of the steeper faces of the upland areas.

Curlew (Numenius arquata)

Curlew (Numenius arquata)

Numbers and range of curlews in Ireland have declined substantially in recent decades. This area is an important stronghold for the species, where they can be found nesting in rough pastures, meadows and heathland. (Photo: Luc-Hoogenstein)

Carabus clatratus

Carabus clatratus

This species of carabid beetle, a priority species in Northern Ireland, is declining across Europe, including Ireland, but is found in the area on lake shorelines and wet grasslands.

Blue eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bermudiana)

Blue eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bermudiana)

Blue-eyed grass is a member of the American element of the Irish flora, being absent from any other part of Eurasia, but occurring mainly in North America. It can be found on wet pastures, hay meadows and lake shores within the Area.


European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism
Online: http://www.hnv-farming.eu/panorama/ulster-connacht/index2.php
Date: 2017/05/25
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