Natural Heritage

Natural Heritage describes the natural features of the countryside such as plants, animals, habitats and geology.  There is huge diversity of species and habitats within County Longford, which because of their importance at European and National level require the designation of areas for their protection and conservation.

The three main types of designation are: Natural Heritage Area (NHA), Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA).

Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs)

A Natural Heritage Area (NHA) is the basic designation for wildlife under the Wildlife Amendment Act (2000).  Sites are selected by having special scientific significance for one or more species; communities; habitats; landforms or geological features; or for a variety of natural attributes.  Longford has six designated NHAs.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) maintain data on protected sites, which is available on their Designated Sites Data page. The datasheets provide site-specific information for all SPAs in tabular format (Excel, CSV, JSON).

View and download Protected Sites spatial data through the NPWS Protected Sites map-viewer.

Natural Heritage Areas in Longford

In addition there are several proposed Natural Heritage Areas (pNHA), which were published on a non-statutory basis in 1995, but have not since been statutorily proposed or designated. These sites are of significance for wildlife and habitats.

Proposed Natural Heritage Areas in Longford

  • 001822 Carrickglass Demesne pNHA
  • 001821 Cordara Turlough pNHA
  • 001444 Derry Lough pNHA
  • 001687 Glen Lough pNHA
  • 00449 Lough Bannow pNHA
  • 001819 Lough Bawn pNHA
  • 00992 Lough Gowna pNHA
  • 001449 Lough Naback pNHA
  • 001443 Lough Slawn pNHA
  • 002103 Royal Canal pNHA 

The NPWS maintain an archive of the Site Synopses for all pNHAs. These can be downloaded here pNHA Site Synopses archive.  They advise that the PDF portfolio will require Adobe Reader 8 or higher to view (some compatibility issues have been reported when using Adobe Reader with Chrome or Firefox browsers). Please note that these synopses are based in many cases on old survey data and may not accurately reflect the status of the site at the current time.

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs)

Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) represent the prime wildlife areas in Ireland that are also considered extremely important from a European perspective.  Their selection and designation occurs through the EU Habitats Directive (92.43/EEC).  The selected sites have been identified as being of conservation importance in a European context, based on the habitats and species they support, including both plants and animals.  The Directive has a number of Annexes:

Annex I -  Habitats listed on Annex I are those habitat types of community interest whose conservation requires the designation as a Special Area of Conservation.  Irish habitats include raised bogs, active blanket bogs, turloughs, heaths, lakes and rivers, many of which are found in Longford.  Some of these sites are known as priority habitats for which there is a particular obligation for protection.

Annex II - Animal and plant species of community interest whose conservation requires the designation of Special Areas of Conservation are listed on Annex II of the Directive.  In Ireland, these species include Lesser Horseshoe Bat, Salmon and White-clawed Crayfish, all of which may be found in Longford.  Supporting this designation is a list of Notifiable Actions which apply to each annexed habitat and species.  These are activities for which consent must be sought from the Minister of Environment, Heritage & Local Government.  Examples of activity which requires consent include burning or infilling of raised bog; failure to comply with this requirement may result in prosecution.  Lists of 'Notifiable Actions' are available from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) (see below for contact details).

There are currently eight Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) designated in Co. Longford as listed below:

Special Areas of Conservation

Special Protection Areas (SPAs)

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are sites that are important to supporting bird-life.  The EU Birds Directive (79/409/EEC) is the primary mechanism for this designation.  In County Longford, SPAs are generally wetlands, such as bogs, lakes and Lough Ree. The Directive provides for listed rare and vulnerable species like the Whooper Swan, Peregrine Falcon and Corncrake, of which the Whooper Swan may be found on Lough Ree.  These sites are important habitats not only for resident Irish birds but also for regularly occurring migratory species, such as geese and waders.  Such wetlands are of international importance for migratory birds.

Special Protection Areas in Longford

National Parks and Wildlife Service

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government have a designated freephone number: 1800 40 50 00 open from 9am to 5pm.  For further details about Ireland's environment and natural heritage, visit