This project area lies on the southwestern slopes of Ben Gleninsky, which
is located along the southern edge of the Twelve Bens mountain range in the
Connemara region of Co. Galway. The site is surrounded by the Twelve Bens/
Garraun Special Area of Conservation and the area to be cleared of conifers
will be subsumed into the SAC once restoration has been shown to be successful.
The site can be divided into two distinct parts. Below an altitude of
approximately 200 metres there is a large planted area, dominated by tall
lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), while above 200m the land is unplanted,
unfenced and dominated by heath vegetation and rock outcrops. Immediately
upslope of the planted area there is wet heath vegetation dominated by
purple moor-grass (Molinia caerulea) and ling heather (Calluna
vulgaris) and this in turn grades into dry/montane heath dominated by
ling heather (Calluna vulgaris). This montane heath vegetation
also contains plant species such as clubmoss (Huperzia selago),
bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), juniper (Juniperus communis)
and bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). Areas of montane heath
habitat are relatively rare in Ireland. The site will serve as a good
demonstration of how the many plantations in similar locations in Connemara
can be managed for environmental benefit.
The main restoration measures at this site will be the felling and removal
of the commercial conifer crop, followed by the blocking of drains.