Map of Irish Wetlands - Background Information

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Numerous project have been undertaken since the 1990’s in Ireland to map freshwater wetland habitats. However, no centralised map of wetlands exists for Ireland.

As an independent wetland scientist and in conjunction with Wetland Surveys Ireland I have undertaken numerous wetland studies and surveys, and proposed plans for the protection and conservation of wetland habitats in Ireland.

We initiated this interactive online mapping project in an attempt to provide information on the location and characteristics of wetland sites throughout Ireland and called it the ‘Map of Irish Wetlands’. This project has been developed jointly by Wetland Surveys Ireland and Foss Environmental Consulting. It is the first time that information on Irish wetlands, both within the state network of protected areas and outside this network, originating from a wide variety of sources, is shown on one map and made freely available to those with an interest in Irish wetlands. 

We hope the Map of Irish Wetlands resource will be of use to a range of professionals who are interested in identifying the wetland biodiversity resource in a given area. And of course its a way to check out the wetlands in your area.

Data Displayed

The wetland habitats on sites displayed in the Map of Irish Wetlands include the following types.  For a selection of the habitats we have also presented distribution maps for the habitats in Ireland based on 2016 data held within the Map of Irish Wetlands dataset. More information on these habitats and a detailed description can be found in Fossitt, J. (2000) A Guide to Habitats in Ireland published by The Heritage Council, Ireland (you can download the Heritage Councils habitat key here): 

To find out more about wetlands and the range of wetland types, check out our Factfiles on Irish wetlands (located on the Wetland Surveys Ireland website).

For these wetlands we aim to provide the following information (data attributes) on sites in so far as this is available. The Map of Irish Wetlands is created from a variety of data sources and is displayed via the ESRI Web Maps interface. 

  • Site name (Site name as reported in previous reports or surveys. Where name is followed by "-" this is the name of the larger site that the sub-site is included within. e.g. GORTEENNAMROCK - ASKEATON FEN COMPLEX, Gorteennamock is located within the Askeaton Fen Complex).
  • WSI Site Code (unique wetland site code number assigned to site; please use this code in any correspondance concerning the site (see below)).
  • Site photograph (Image of site photographed by individual or from web source; publication or survey report. Higher resolution images of wetlands illustrated on the map (which provide image to Google pop up window) are located in the Gallery folder (see above) on www.FossEnvironmentalConsulting.com). 
  • Photograph credit and copyright (Acknowledgement to individual or group who made available the site photograph). 
  • County (The county in which the wetland occurs).
  • Site evaluation (Conservation ranking of the site based on a habitat, botanical or faunal survey undertaken for a county council or the state agency. All designated Natural Heritage Area (NHA) are considered nationally important, while Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA) are considered to be Internationally important).
  • Site Protection (An indication of whether the site has any form of protection within a designated Natural Heritage Area (NHA), Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Area (SPA), National Nature Reserve, National Park, Forest Park or is a Private or Local Nature Reserve). Although all wetland have been afforded a degree of protection under recent changes to the planning laws, protection here means additional more direct conservation measures are being applied to conserve, manage  and/or protect the site.
  • Main Wetland Type (A list of the main wetland habitats present on the site).
  • Description (A brief description of the wetland interest on the site).
  • Data Source (An indication of group who provided data/location on the listed site).
  • Further Information (Report, website or group that can be contacted if further, more detailed information, on the site is required).

Some facts about the Map of Irish Wetlands

With the completion of the first draft of the Map of Irish Wetlands in October 2016, we thought it might be worth providing some information on the structure of the map and the additional background data held on the wetlands displayed. 

The on-line Map of Irish Wetlands shows the location of more than 12,600+ known and potential wetlands in Ireland. It is the first time such a national data set has been created and made publicly accessible. 

The Map of Irish Wetlands includes the location of formally designated and protected sites (Natural Heritage Areas (NHA), Special Protection Areas (SPA) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)), as well as a wide range of private nature reserves, wetlands in public or state parks, wetland centres etc. 

In addition the map shows the location of wetland sites, which have no formal designation and for which we have very limited information, included here are many intact and cutover bogs, farm ponds, quarry ponds, golf course ponds and “unknown” wetland areas (marshes, swamps and fens) in the general countryside. Many of these wetlands were identified from aerial photographic survey, using flooding, subsoil and visual examination to identify new wetland, or “potential" wetland sites. The wetland county screening process for all 26 counties in Ireland was completed in October 2016.

MIW Info Window

The map is displayed via the ESRI Web Maps interface and can be accessed from anywhere, via most internet connected devices, without the need for any special software. In the pop up window of the on-line version of the Map of Irish Wetlands, information (stored in 150,000 individual data fields for the 12,600 sites) is displayed (see categories above). In addition to site information, the map also displays a site photograph where one is available, via a link from the Gallery on this website, where photographs are held within 26 individual county photographic folders. 

The on-line version of the Map of Irish Wetlands data set is created from 26 individual county wetland databases holding far more detailed site information than that displayed on the on-line version of the map. 

This includes a wide variety of information on each wetlands such as data on the wetlands location, ownership, all habitat types present on a site, flora and fauna information, occurrence of rare species, threats and impacts to the site and further information on the wetland including year of last survey, survey descriptions of the site, published materials, habitat maps and associated data are recorded where such data is available. This wetland data is stored in more than 430,000 individual data fields for wetland sites in the 26 county databases. 

As new data become available on a wetland site, from either information provided by the public, or from a wetland surveys or a general site visits, or a photograph submitted by a member of the public, data on a given wetland is updated in the respective county wetland database. 

Selected information held in the individual county wetland databases is then regularly exported to the main Map of Irish Wetlands database which is then displayed via the on-line map. 

How you can Help us improve the Map of Irish Wetlands

We intend to continue to refine the information presented on wetland sites on the map over the coming years, including the addition of site photographs, habitat information and descriptions. We always welcome information on new or existing sites, and look forwarding to hearing from you if you would like to contribute to this wetland mapping project.

If you would like to help us you can send us your information on the wetland via the response form a link for which can be found just above the map. 

Map of Irish Wetlands Team.

Peter Foss & Patrick Crushell


© Peter Foss 2012