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Grasslands of the Burren, Western Ireland

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Chapter Summary

The Burren has two distinct regions: to the west the 'high Burren' where terraced hills reach a maximum altitude of 330 m and to the east, the 'low Burren', a flat limestone plain of average altitude 20-30 m. The conservation importance of the Burren is recognised through the designation of over 30,000 ha as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). Included among the 16 "Habitats" Directive Annex 1 habitats that have been recognised in the Burren are limestone pavement, turloughs, Juniperus communis formations on calcareous grasslands and orchid rich semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates. Floristic tables were generated for two grassland communities that are widespread in the Burren, the Sesleria caerulea-Breutelia chrysocoma community and the Dactylis glomerata-Holcus lanatus community. The two main threats to the conservation status of the Burren grasslands and their associated fauna and flora are diminution of grazing and scrub encroachment.

Keywords: Burren grasslands; Dactylis glomerata-Holcus lanatus community; grazing diminution; scrub encroachment; Sesleria caerulea-Breutelia chrysocoma community



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