This site is located west of the village of Dunfanaghy, in northern Co. Donegal. The bedrock geology is dominated by quartzite (which forms the cliffs of Horn Head) interbedded with smaller amounts of schist and metadolerite bedrock elsewhere. Extensive sand areas dominate the southwestern and eastern portions of the site, while peat podsols predominate in the north, with occasional rocky outcrops.
- Area (ha): 2,343,320
- Description of the area: Large dune surfaces, a lake, coastal cliffs, heathland, agricultural and forest areas
- Natura 2000 code: SAC IE0000147
- Other protection status according to national or regional legislation: pNHA 000147 Horn Head And Rinclevan
NHAs are the basic Irish designation for biodiversity conservation and are legally protected by the Wildlife Act (2000). The proposed NHAs were published on a non-statutory basis, but have not been designated by law and therefore have limited protection.
This SAC includes marine areas (37% of the SAC) and land (63%). The land area is mainly privately owned (57% of the SAC), with 143.47 ha (6% of the SAC) in public ownership.
Coastal heathland, cliff and sand dune habitats make up 53% of the SAC, with 3% managed for intensive grazing and freshwater ecosystems occupying 6%. The plantation area, which is the objective of this project, occupies 21.64 ha (1% of the SAC). They were established using conifers between 1957 and 1961, but there is currently no active forest management. The site is unusual in that roads and car parks are restricted to less ecologically sensitive areas and the dunes are not open to recreational vehicle traffic. Several trails have been made by walkers who access the dunes and the beach from the car park, but these are not considered to have a negative impact on the site.