Please note: Following input from detailed ecology surveys and community engagement in 2022, some project details have been changed. This will be reflected in updated management plans which have been presented at community engagement walks at the project sites and which we will share in more detail in 2023.
Concrete conservation actions to be carried out at Horn head and Rinclevan include:
C3 Elimination of senescent forest plantations and removal of isolated invasive trees, to improve habitat 2130*
C9 Protection measures against anthropogenic conditions in the habitat 2130 *
In total, 10 ha of forest formations will be restored to 2130* during the course of the conservation tasks, which will result in an increase of between 3.4% of the 2130* area. Felled tree stumps will be cut as close to ground level as possible. Waste not removed from the site will be stockpiled and left on site. This approach will minimize disturbance to the site as a whole, while maximizing benefits to nature. Some standing and fallen dead wood will be left in place, as this can contribute to biodiversity, especially invertebrates. We have identified an area of c. 18 ha in which the logging and restoration works will be concentrated, but the specific location of the works will be decided based on the preparatory actions A.
Because trees are sparse in some parts of the forest formations, the ground vegetation contains species typical of 2130* fixed dunes, and these areas will be allowed to adjust naturally to the increased light penetration after clearing. Where large areas of bare sand are exposed, seeding will be used to restore 2130*. If required, sand catcher panels can also be installed on a temporary basis. The 2130* habitat enhancement will allow for some sand mobilization and will also reduce the likelihood of extreme erosion events that could occur in the absence of vegetative cover.
Signage will be used to prevent access to restored dune areas to minimize damage due to recreational use.
Monitoring of project results will be a key part of the project and will allow assessment of the impact of restoration actions on the conservation status of 2130* at Horn Head and Rinclevan. Communicating the results with local people and NGOs will be a vital part of the community engagement aspect of the work and will improve the long-term prospects for success of the project. The results of the monitoring and community engagement will inform the long-term site management strategy and help us identify the most successful aspects of the project that can be applied to sand dune management in other parts of Ireland.
There are few opportunities to create additional areas of sand dune habitat in Ireland in an ecologically significant way. This site offers a unique opportunity to generate 2130* new habitat areas on one of the most important sand dune sites in Ireland. It also offers the additional benefit of increasing dune area as habitat for birds, and especially waterfowl, whose presence has prompted the designation of the Horn Head to Fanad Head SPA. The development of a management plan will help improve the condition of the 2130* fixed dunes in the Horn Head and Rinclevan SAC and this will be incorporated into the AfterLIFE plan ensuring continued proper management.