Grasslands

A National Survey of Grasslands of Conservation Value commenced, as a pilot study, in 2007 on the Counties of Offaly and Roscommon and the survey continued in 2008 with counties Cork and Waterford.  In 2009 the survey moved to Cavan, Monaghan, Leitrim and Longford.

Reports are available for download from the Publications section.

The main objectives of the survey are the compilation of an inventory of semi-natural grassland sites in selected counties, an assessment of their conservation value and the development of a classification of Irish semi-natural grassland that will build on the information in "A Guide to Habitats in Ireland" (Fossitt, 2000).

The survey aims to identify many areas of semi-natural grassland and to map these using GIS. The grasslands are located using electronic datasets in combination with information contained in internal NPWS files and with information from interested stakeholders. A stratified sampling procedure is then used to select the sites to be surveyed within a county. Up to 100 sites per county are visited and a comprehensive field survey carried out. It is also aimed to record aproximately 750 relevés each year during the survey, which will assist in the classification of Irish grasslands. Statistical analyses will feature in this aspect of the project. Species lists, abundance and vegetation structure are documented within the relevés and soil samples collected.

At each site the various grassland habitat types obvious on the ground are mapped. A complete species list, landuse, physical features etc. are also recorded.

Photo of calcareous grasslands at Lough Corrib

Calcareous grasslands at Lough Corrib
(Photo: NPWS)

Photo of esker grasslands at Split Hills

Esker grasslands at Split Hills
(Photo: NPWS)

Members of the Scientific Unit can be contacted by e-mailing: natureconservation@environ.ie