The County Monaghan Wetlands Map - Desk Survey & GIS Preparation

Crushell, P. & Foss, P.J. (2010) The County Monaghan Wetlands Map. Desk Survey & GIS Preparation. Report for Monaghan County Council and The Heritage Council. pp 159.а

Report cover

The County Monaghan Wetlands Map project was carried out by Wetland Surveys Ireland of behalf of Monaghan County Council and The Heritage Council. The project created a digital GIS wetlands map and database of freshwater wetland sites in county Monaghan. The habitats include lake, pond, watercourses, spring, swamp, wet grassland, marsh, bog, fen, and wet woodland. In all, 32 wetland habitat types were mapped, 8 of which are listed as priority habitats in the EU Habitats Directive.

A variety of third party GIS data-sets, published surveys and reports on wetlands, and a systematic aerial photographic survey were used to identify wetland sites. These were mapped and entered into a database holding information on sites. The sites identified were characterised and mapped in terms of the wetland habitat(s) present.а

The synthesis of this data-set forms a invaluable tool for future heritage conservation planning in the county, assist in the development of sustainable planning programmes, and will allow for the design of future targeted wetland surveys and research programmes in county Monaghan.

General summary:а

1. County Monaghan contains a wide range of wetlands and their associated species of high international and national importance (An Foras Forbartha 1981; Farrell 1972; Martin 2006; Foss & Crushell 2007 & 2008b; Woodrow 2008 & 2009 inter alia). Due to the varying topography, hydrology, climate and soils present it has wetland habitats ranging from degraded cutover raised bogs, blanket bogs, fens, marshes, large riverine systems, an abundance and variety of lakes, springs, wet woodlands and many more. Monaghan is likely to contain some of the finest examples of transition mire fens and mesotrophic inter drumlin lakes that occur in Ireland.

2. The aim of the County Monaghan Wetlands Map (MWM) was to prepare a GIS data-set and associated site database of all known freshwater wetland sites in county Monaghan.а

The wetland sites were identified following an extensive review of literature and third party data sources. Information stored on these sites included details of previous surveys and general site characteristics.а

In addition to the previously recorded wetland sites, a GIS dataset was established to record all mapped wetland habitat within the county by incorporating map data provided from third parties along with wetland identified by an analysis of aerial photography of all wetland habitat within the county.а

Together these two datasets facilitated an assessment of the wetland resource of the entire county. Wetland habitats on sites were classified according to the Guide to Habitats published by The Heritage Council (Fossitt 2000). For the purposes of this study, 32 different habitat types are regarded as wetland habitats, these are listed below.

3. This study addressed the following research objectives:а

•аа аcollect and amalgamate data on known wetland sites within county Monaghan from data sources following consultation with Monaghan County Council, State authorities, third party research groups and individuals;а
•аа аproduce a map and associated database of all wetland sites to include key data on each site, including the specific wetland habitat type(s) present; the extent of each wetland type; and compile an inventory of available published and survey information on each site;
•аа аundertake a desktop survey of aerial photography of the county to identify wetland sites of potential interest occurring outside of existing data sources and surveys;
•аа аevaluateа each site in terms of its conservation status, known habitat and area information, known survey information and threats;
•аа аidentify the main information gaps and make recommendations to guide future policy and research priorities towards the conservation of the wetland resource in county Monaghan. аа а

4. The current study focused on the identification of 32 wetland types (16 of which are listed in Annex 1 of the EU Habitats Directive, and a further eight are listed as priority habitats) in county Monaghan, plus one generic wetland type entitled MWM Unknown wetland type, where the specific wetland habitat present could not be assigned with certainty to one of the recognised habitat types.а

5. A variety of data sources (reports, publications, databases and inventory lists), groups and individuals were consulted in the compilation of information for the MWM project. Those contacted, are listed in Appendix 2, while published research and GIS data sources provided and consulted in the MWM are listed in Appendix 1 and cited in full in the Bibliography.

6. The total area of wetland habitat that has been mapped in county Monaghan is currently 7,319 ha, which represents 5.8 % of the entire county (this should be interpreted as a minimum area as wetland habitats within many sites were not mapped due to lack of baseline data).а

7. Detailed information on 478 wetland sites and sub-sites is held in the MWM site database.а

A total of 1,856 discrete wetland habitat polygons have been collated and mapped within the county in the MWM GIS dataset. Of the 1,862 discrete wetland units in the MWM GIS, 661 polygons have been newly identified by an analysis of aerial photography of the county. The specific wetland habitat could not be identified on these 661 polygons.а

8. These wetland habitat types can be found as discrete communities in their own right, or in association with (or within) larger semi-natural complexes such as blanket bog, cutover regenerating bog areas, turlough, wet heathland, wet grassland, woodland, lacustrine and riverine habitats and systems.а

9. In terms of the main habitat types in county Monaghan the results suggest that on a county basis, the 7,319 ha of wetland habitat recorded includes 2,061 ha of lakes, 1,342 ha of bog and heath, 242 ha of wet woodland and scrub and 1,012 ha comprising fens, marshes, swamps and wet grassland. A further 2,665 ha of wetland has been assigned to the ‘MWM unknown wetland type’.

10. It is probable that additional wetland sites exist outside of the sites which have been identified in the present County Monaghan Wetlands Map (see Results section 6.1 for further clarification).а

11. In relation to the 1,856 wetland habitat units identified in the MWM, one key result to emerge is that significant gaps exist in relation to our knowledge of this resource, due primarily to a lack of detailed habitat surveys.а Specifically, the following issues have been identified:

Wetland type distribution: it is clear from our results that information is lacking on many important wetland habitats that occur throughout the county. Apart from blanket bogs, and fens few other wetland habitats have been systematically surveyed in Monaghan. Without a full appreciation of the extent and condition of these wetland habitats it is not possible to set realistic conservation objectives or make informed decisions on their relative importance in relation to biodiversity and in the provision of other ecosystem services.

ааа Exact extent of wetland types: our knowledge in relation to the location or extent of wetland type(s) present on sites is considered lacking or inadequate for many sites identified in the MWM.

12. One of the key findings to emerge from a conservation evaluation of wetland sites recognised in theа MWM is that 372 site records or 76% of the sites listed (487 sites in total) have no protection although the conservation value of many has been recognised or proposed by third parties.а

13. Based on the results of this analysis of wetlands, the following habitat types within the county should be prioritised as part of any future MWM Field Surveys: Turloughs, Lakes, Tall Herb Swamp, Springs and Wet Grassland inter alia.

14. Sites identified during the MWM which could not be assigned to a Fossitt category should be included in any future wetland survey.

15. Based on the results of this survey the following geographic areas within the county should be surveyed for potential wetland sites:

•аа аEastern and northern parts of the county, approximately that part of the county that lies East and North of Monaghan townа

16. Our incomplete knowledge of many of the wetland areas in county Monaghan makes a systematic survey of existing and newly recorded sites a priority, if conservation worthy sites are to be identified and the best examples put forward for conservation under county conservation programmes such as the Monaghan Local Biodiversity Programme, or the NPWS national Natural Heritage Area (NHA) or European Habitats Directive Natura 2000 (SAC) network.а

17. Other recommendations from the study included:

• The habitat mapping and research methodology developed during the Monaghan Wetland Survey, should be formalised by the Heritage Council, and a standard Phase I desk based wetland survey manual should be prepared, and made available to other local authorities so that similar wetland habitat inventories can be undertaken in their counties following standard guidelines.

• Extra resources should be put towards enforcing regulations preventing damage to wetland sites throughout county Monaghan.

• A public awareness campaign should be run to inform on the diverse wetland resource of the county and the value of this resource through amongst other things the provision of important ecosystem services.

For further information on The Monaghan Wetland Map or to receive a copy of the final report, GIS etc. contact the Heritage Officer in Monaghan County Council.

Wetland Image Cutaway bog

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