County Westmeath Wetland Survey

A desktop survey was carried out under Westmeath Heritage Plan 2018-2023; Action 2.1 ‘Address knowledge gap in existing survey of heritage by implementing a programme of research and surveys…’ and the Westmeath Biodiversity Action Plan 2014-2020 Priority Actions: 1. ‘Identify core Nature Conservation Sites’, 2.  ‘Identify Nature Development Areas where opportunity for habitat improvement exists’ and 39. ‘Establish a site inventory of important geological and natural heritage sites outside of designated areas in Westmeath’.

This project was funded by the Heritage Council, the National Biodiversity Action Plan Grant Scheme, DCHG and Westmeath County Council. Ecologist George Smith was contracted to carry out this desk-based survey to map wetland sites in the county (lakes, watercourses, springs, bogs, fens, bog woodland, riparian and wet woodland etc.). The survey was based on cartographic and aerial photographic sources, as well as the Map of Irish Wetlands (MIW) (Wetland Surveys Ireland, 2019), the Westmeath Fen Survey (2007) and Westmeath Peatland survey (2001).

The Wetland survey provides up-to-date primary data on 493 wetland sites in the County, which cover c. 17% of the land area of Westmeath. The survey identified 51 wetland sites of county value for biodiversity conservation. The report outlined the threats to wetland sites in Westmeath, which include drainage and reclamation for agriculture; peat extraction, water pollution and invasive species. Several practical recommendations for the conservation of wetlands and priorities for future research are outlined in the report.

It is available below and in the Local Studies Section of the Library.