Designated Wildlife Sites

The majority of Louth's coastal zone is designated as being of EUROPEAN IMPORTANCE for wildlife. Some inland areas are also designated by the European Union.

Starting at the northern extremity of the county, Carlingford Mountain is a Special Area of Conservation (an SAC). The mountain overshadows Carlingford Lough, which is both a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protection Area (an SPA). In fact there are two separate Carlingford Lough SPAs, one each in counties Louth and Down.

There is a short, undesignated gap between the Carlingford Lough designated site and that of Dundalk Bay, which is also both a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protection Area. Dundalk Bay is the single most important site in Ireland for migratory wading birds (oystercatcher, curlew etc). The Dundalk Bay SPA extends right to the southern end of Dundalk Bay, at Dunany. Most of the coast south from Dunany to Termonfeckin is NOT designated but there is a couple of sites.

Inland from Dundalk Bay, between Castlebellingham and Ardee, there is another, smaller Special Protection Area at Stabannan-Braganstown. It is used by the geese and swans which graze there as well as coastal areas adjacent to Dundalk Bay.

Clogherhead is also designated as a Special Area of Conservation, much of it owned by Louth County Council. The Council has arranged for conservation grazing of its land by cattle, needed to manage the coastal heathland there.

South of Termonfeckin lie the Boyne Estuary Special Protection Area and the Boyne Coast and Estuary Special Area of Conservation. These two sites are shared with county Meath. Louth County Council, with the support of the National Biodiversity Action Plan fund, supports the Louth Nature Trust's Little Tern Wardening project at Baltray, at the mouth of the Boyne. This project protects the little terns which breed on the strand at Baltray, against disturbance by predators and accidental human disturbance.

Meath also has most of the River Boyne and River Blackwater Special Area of Conservation and Special Protection Area within its boundaries but the river Boyne also form the border between Louth and Meath. Drogheda, like Dundalk, is exceptionally fortunate in having such a high quality natural environment.

There are many other, smaller sites in the county which are proposed Natural Heritage Areas, including, most notably, Ardee Bog. Most of the other pNHAs are small woodlands or ponds.

More information is available from the website of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage: NPWS, Protected Sites

Designated Wildlife area