Natural heritage includes native plants and animals and the habitats they live in, geology, landscapes and seascapes.
Biodiversity, which is short for biological diversity, is a significant aspect of our natural heritage and relates to the wealth and diversity of all living things and the processes that give rise to these. The County Wicklow Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) is a local authority-led action plan, and is intended to provide a focused approach for the county, identifying and prioritising habitats and species in need of attention and the action required to secure their future.
Co. Wicklow hosts a wealth of wildlife including a range of threatened habitats and species that are protected by law and recognised as being of local, national and EU importance. Many habitats and species are designated for protection under national and/or EU legislation as follows:
- Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are designated under EU Birds Directive (79/409/EEC)
- Special Conservation Areas (SACs) are designated under EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), transposed into Irish Law by the EU (Natural Habitats) Regulations, 1997 (SACs and SPAs are collectively now known as ‘Natura 2000’ sites)
- Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs) are legally protected under The Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000
Co. Wicklow has one National Park, 17 SACs, 35 (proposed) NHAs, four SPAs, and six Nature Reserves. For more information on protected sites in Co. Wicklow visit National Parks & Wildlife Service.
Exploring Biodiversity in Wicklow
The Heritage Office, through the County Wicklow Heritage Plan and the Wicklow BAP, and with support from the Heritage Council, has produced a series of Wildlife in Wicklow guides:
- An Introduction to Biodiversity in Co. Wicklow
- Woodlands of Wicklow
- Wicklow's Coastline
- Wicklow's Mountains
- The Murrough Wetlands
These are also available in hard copy.
Wicklow Bridges Project
The Heritage Office worked with Inland Fisheries Ireland and BirdWatch Ireland to audit a selection of bridges in Co. Wicklow to identify usage by birds and other animals and to assess impediments to fish passage. The reports provide important baseline information to assist decision making regarding the repair and remediation of features as relevant.