Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Publication: Plant species of conservation concern in Ireland

The distribution of vascular plant species of conservation concern in Ireland, and their coincidence with designated areas

This paper is now available as a pdf (until April 24 2015) at Journal for Nature Conservation.
It collates Irish (whole island) records (such as those collected by BSBI, and others) for species of conservation concern (such as Flora Protection Order species, Red Data Book species and others). We plot the distribution of plant species of conservation concern, and look at their coincidence with designated areas (Natura 2000, NHAs, ASSIs etc). As far as we're aware, this is the first time that this has been done in Ireland. Some counties are much better covered than others (see map below). This work showed that many of the records of species of greatest conservation concern occur within designated areas (average of 79%), but for individual species, this varied from 0% to 100%.

Protected areas (that are usually designated) play an important role in the effort to halt on-going losses of biodiversity. However, areas outside of designated sites for protection can also hold important elements of biodiversity, and knowledge of their distribution is necessary to ensure effective conservation strategies. We collated and mapped vascular plant distribution data for species of conservation concern on the island of Ireland. For the first time in Ireland, we extracted 6078 distribution records of 176 species of conservation concern and mapped them at the tetrad (2 km x 2 km) scale. We examined the extent to which tetrads with records of species of conservation concern overlapped with designated areas (Natura 2000, Natural Heritage Areas, Areas of Special Scientific Interest). A conservative estimate suggests that many of these tetrads do not overlap with designated areas (in the range of 22%–40% for available records). The coincidence of records of individual species with designated areas ranged from 0% to 100% (mean = 79%). The mapped distribution data for all vascular plant species offers guidance to where additional recording may be helpful in supporting conservation activities. The analysis of the distribution of species of conservation concern indicates the importance of both designated areas and the (non-designated) wider countryside for biodiversity conservation. In particular the presence of species of conservation concern in non-designated areas highlights the need for conservation measures outside of designated areas.

See the preprint at Journal for Nature Conservation

Authors: Aidan Walsh, John Finn, Matthew Jebb, Steve Waldren, Caroline Sullivan

This work was funded by a Teagasc Walsh Fellowship award to Aidan Walsh.

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