The EU Directive on the Conservation of Habitats, Flora and Fauna (92/43/EEC), commonly known as “the Habitats Directive”, was adopted in 1992, came into force in 1994 and was transposed into Irish law in 1997.
The main aim of the Habitats Directive is to contribute towards the conservation of biodiversity by requiring Member States to take measures to maintain or restore natural habitats and wild species listed on the Annexes to the Directive at a favourable conservation status. These annexes list habitats (Annex I) and species (Annexes II, IV and V) which are considered threatened in the EU territory. The listed habitats and species represent a considerable proportion of biodiversity in Ireland and the Directive itself is one of the most important pieces of legislation governing the conservation of biodiversity in Europe.
Under Article 11 of the Directive, each member state is obliged to undertake surveillance of the conservation status of the natural habitats and species in the Annexes and under Article 17, to report to the European Commission every six years on their status and on the implementation of the measures taken under the Directive.
In June 2013, Ireland submitted the second assessment of conservation status for 58 habitats and 61 species (including three overview assessments of species at a group level). A further 8 species are considered to be vagrant in Ireland.
The 2013 report is published in 3 volumes: An overview report (Volume 1), released in November 2014, provides more detail on the methodologies, an easy-to-read summary of the results and a list of contributors to the assessments. Volume 2 (Habitats) and Volume 3 (Species) contain the detailed reports and relevant scientific information. The Article 17 2013 documents can be accessed here.
The datasets used to derive the distributions are from many sources. An overview of the data sources used is provided in Notes section for each habitat and species in Volume 2 and Volume 3.
The spatial data is now available for download here (in Irish National Grid or in ETRS89 Lambert Azimuthal Equal-Area for some marine habitats and species).
Summaries for all EU Member States and Conservation Status Assessment at the biogeographical level are available on the European Topic Centre’s website.
The 2007 assessment is available for download here.