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Saturday 20 September 2014

Protection for species from EU Directive

Published 17/12/2013 | 05:42

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Annexes II, lV and V of the Habitats Directive list well over 1,000 species of plants and animals in need of protection. These annexed species and the 220 or so places or habitats that support them are scattered widely across the territories of the 28 Member States of the European Union. Here in Ireland our green and pleasant land supports just 69 of these species: 11 plants and 58 animals.

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The 11 plant species that are protected under the Habitats Directive comprise two red seaweeds, Reindeer Moss, three true mosses, one liverwort, one clubmoss, one fern and two flowering plants.

The two red seaweeds are slow-growing species found on the western seaboard between Roaringwater Bay, Co Cork, and Mulroy Bay, Co Donegal. Reindeer Moss is not a true moss but a group of five related lichens that grow on heaths, bogs, dunes and screes.

True mosses are represented by the Shining Sickle moss, the White Cushion Moss and Sphagnum, a group of 11 closely-related bog mosses. Petalwort is the sole protected liverwort. The Killarney Fern is the only fern and its related Clubmoss is one of the fern-allies and is a group of four species.

The two flowering plants are the very rare Marsh Saxifrage found in bog flushes in counties Mayo and Antrim and the rare Slender Naiad an aquatic plan found on the beds of deep lakes along the western seaboard.

The tally of 58 animals is made up of a diverse group of life forms; first, six molluscs comprising three snails, two freshwater pearl mussels and the Kerry Slug. The White-clawed Crayfish is the only crustacean and while insects form a huge group only one, the Marsh Fritillary, a butterfly, is represented on the Irish list of EU annexed species.

Eight fish are listed: three lampreys, three shads, the Atlantic Salmon and the Pollan. Amphibians include the Natterjack Toad and the Common Frog and the Leatherback Turtle is the only reptile.

All of our bats and all of our cetaceans make the list. We have ten species of bats while our 24 cetaceans include 17 species of whales, six dolphins and the Harbour Porpoise. The final five mammals are the Irish Hare, Otter, Pine Marten, Harbour Seal and Grey Seal.

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