SAC 001818 Lough Forbes Complex
SITE NAME: Lough Forbes Complex
SITE CODE: 001818
This site is composed of a complex of different adjacent habitats, each of which contributes in a different way to the overall value of the site as a whole. The site is centered around Lough Forbes, a lake formed by a broadening of the River Shannon, and a series of raised bogs, callows grassland and a variety of other aquatic and terrestrial habitats to the west of Newtown Forbes on the Longford/Roscommon boundary.
Lough Forbes is a medium sized lake underlain by limestone. It has extensive Reed (Phragmites australis) swamps which provides good cover for wildfowl although numbers have declined recently possibly due to the increase in cruisers and other pleasure boats. Freshwater marshes are also a common feature along the lakeshore. These areas contain a good diversity of aquatic and emergent vegetation comprising of sedges (Carex vesicaria, C. rostrata and C. acuta), Bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata), Spike-rush (Eleocharis palustris), Fine-leaved Water Dropwort (Oenanthe aquatica), Water Plantain (Alisma plantago-aquatica), Cowbane (Cicuta virosa), Common Club-rush (Scirpus lacustris) and Reed Canary-grass (Phalaris arundinacea).
The raised bogs, located on the south-eastern shore of Lough Forbes, are known as the Ballykenny-Fishertown complex. These bogs are of international importance as unique examples of Shannon River edge bogs and they are also the most northerly intact bogs adjacent to the River Shannon.
The central core areas of the bogs are quite wet and spongy with a good complement of Bog Mosses (Sphagnum spp.) and well developed hummocks. Ballykenny Bog is unusual in that some of its margins are intact, a rare feature in the Irish midlands. Between the Camlin River and this bog, a complete transition from raised bog to callow grasslands can be seen, while the interface between the bog and lake is colonised by a narrow band of deciduous woodland.
Within this site, there are also several areas of mixed deciduous woodland such as Castlewood Desmesne which is an excellent example of an old planted estate woodland. Here a closed canopy with a good mixed age structure, a good diversity of species and abundant regeneration of native trees has developed. The canopy is comprised of abundant Oak (Quercus spp.), frequent Yew (Taxus baccata), Downy Birch (Betula pubescens), occasional Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), Ash (Fraxinus excelsior), Elm (Ulmus glabra) and occasional stands of conifers. Holly (Ilex aquifolium) and Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) are frequent in the shrub layer.
Areas of callows (winter-flooded grassland) along the Camlin River are also included. Like the internationally important Shannon Callows, these wet grasslands are included for their botanical interest as well as for the waterbirds that they support.
The Lough Forbes area is also of national importance for its population of Greenland White-fronted Geese (240 maximum count, 1991/1992). Ireland hosts about 50% of the world population of this race of goose, and has international obligations to conserve it.
The importance of the Lough Forbes site lies in its excellent diversity of habitats, some of which, as in the case of raised bogs, are rare and threatened. It also hosts several species of interest, in particular, a nationally important population of Greenland White-fronted Geese, which are an internationally important and legally protected species.