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Special Areas of Conservation

Upper Lough Erne

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country Northern Ireland
Unitary Authority Northern Ireland
Centroid* H329279
Latitude 54.2
Longitude -7.4944
SAC EU Code UK0016614
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 5751.34
* This is the approximate central point of the SAC. In the case of large, linear or composite sites, this may not represent the location where a feature occurs within the SAC.
Location of Upper Lough Erne SAC

General site character

  • Inland water bodies (Standing water, Running water) (67%)
  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (9%)
  • Humid grassland, Mesophile grassland (17%)
  • Broad-leaved deciduous woodland (7%)

Download the Standard Data Form for this site (PDF <100kb)

Note When undertaking an appropriate assessment of impacts at a site, all features of European importance (both primary and non-primary) need to be considered.

Annex I habitats that are a primary reason for selection of this site

  • Upper Lough Erne in Northern Ireland is a very large natural eutrophic lake situated in a drumlin landscape and has a predominantly limestone catchment. The site is an example of a northern or western eutrophic lake of glacial origin. The lake has a very long shoreline and numerous associated satellite lakes, many of which are included in the site. Aquatic vegetation of the Magnopotamion and Hydrocharition type is extensively-developed. Both club-rush – common reed ScirpoPhragmitetum and reed canary-grass – shoreweed – spike-rush PhalarisLittorellaEleocharis associations are well-developed on the shore. There are transitions to swamp and fen vegetation.

  • Upper Lough Erne represents one of the largest areas of semi-natural woodland remaining in Northern Ireland. Drier soils support mature stands of old sessile oak woods, which are particularly well-developed to the south of the lough. The woodlands consist of a canopy dominated by oak Quercus petraea, with occasional ash Fraxinus excelsior and birch Betula pubescens. Hazel Corylus avellana and holly Ilex aquifolium often form a distinct shrub layer. The ground flora is very variable and consists of a wide variety of species, including bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta, sanicle Sanicula europaea, goldilocks buttercup Ranunculus auricomus, great wood-rush Luzula sylvatica, and an abundance of the scarce thin-spiked wood-sedge Carex strigosa.

  • Upper Lough Erne is the most extensive area of alluvial forests in Northern Ireland. The woodland occurs in scattered stands around the edges of the lough, where the shoreline is ungrazed or only very lightly grazed. Fluctuating water levels and variations in exposure, substrate and management have resulted in the formation of a wide range of wet woodland communities. These are generally characterised by a canopy in which species such as willow Salix spp. and alder Alnus glutinosa are dominant, with more notable species such as aspen Populus tremula, guelder-rose Viburnum opulus and buckthorn Rhamnus cathartica scattered throughout. The ground flora is often similar to that of the swamp and fen zone, with a rich variety of sedges and herbs. In places, there are well-developed transitions to drier woodland types, including 91A0 old sessile oak woods with Ilex and Blechnum.

Annex I habitats present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for selection of this site

  • Not Applicable

Annex II species that are a primary reason for selection of this site

  • 1355 Otter Lutra lutra

    This site represents otter Lutra lutra in Northern Ireland. The province holds one of the strongest populations of otters in the UK. Upper Lough Erne consists of a large eutrophic lake with very extensive associated wetland habitats that holds a dense and large population of otters. In addition the surrounding countryside is rich in relatively unpolluted rivers and lakes and has a high density of semi-natural habitats, especially wetlands, supporting the otter population within the site.

Annex II species present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection

  • Not Applicable

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