Areas of Action

Donegal Bay (Murvagh) SAC

General description

This site occupies the inner part of Donegal Bay, in the NW of Ireland. It contains the estuary of the River Eske and several other important rivers, especially for salmonid species. The area is underlain by limestone and carboniferous shales, although sand and other recent deposits hide much of the geology.

- Area (ha): 1,810,480

- Description of the area: Sand dune forested in the 1950s, which contains dune characteristics with good naturalness

- Natura 2000 code: SAC IE0000133

- Other protection status according to national or regional legislation: pNHA: Donegal Bay (Murvagh) SAC 133

The SAC boundary coincides with the pNHA. NHAs are the basic Irish designation for biodiversity conservation and are legally protected by the Wildlife Act (2000). Proposed NHAs (pNHAs) were published on a non-statutory basis, but have not been designated by law and therefore have limited protection.

The marine area occupies 86.46% of the site, and the activities consist of boating and fishing in the bay, and aquaculture. Recreational pressures are severe in some parts of the dunes, with a golf course outside the SAC and the presence of coniferous plantations. The site is of international importance due to the presence of a wide range of habitats, including four listed in Annex I of Directive 92/43/EEC, an important colony of seals and the presence of important populations of seabirds.

The terrestrial area, comprising 13.5% of the site, or 245.19 ha, is made up of coastal habitats (9%), agriculture (2%), and forested formations (1%), with a very small amount of infrastructure built (< 1%) in the form of roads and car parks.

COILLTE, and thus the Irish State, is a significant owner (7.4% of the SAC), with the rest of the land area (6.1% of the SAC) divided between private owners.