The Shanvolahan site is located close to Eskeragh, north of the main Ballina
to Belmullet road, approximately 10 kilometres west of Crossmolina, Co. Mayo.
The site occupies an area of 76.6 hectares most of which is afforested with
conifers of varying size and age. The entire project area lies within the
extensive Bellacorick Bog Complex Special Area of Conservation which is one
of the finest examples of a relatively intact lowland blanket bog landscape
in Ireland. This SAC is notable for the widespread occurrence of flush and
fen vegetation, derived from mineral-rich groundwater seepage areas.
These flushed areas are known to support a number of nationally and
internationally rare vascular plant and moss species.
Although the majority of the land within this site is planted with conifers
there are also small areas of open blanket bog which were left unplanted
because of their very wet, pool-studded nature. The area to the east of
the property is dominated by very wet, intact blanket bog of high ecological
value. Although this area is not within the project area it is crucial that
any restoration efforts, e.g. drain-blocking, do not result in damage to
this ecologically sensitive adjoining area. In view of this concern,
detailed ecohydrological monitoring is being carried out at this site in
order to gain a better understanding of the system prior to any tree
felling or drain-blocking. Because of the close proximity of flush
vegetation to this site it is possible that some afforested areas may
be colonized by blanket bog flush vegetation following tree removal
and drain blocking.
Some of the conifers on this site are of commercial quality and thus
will be felled and removed for sale, while over the remainder of the
site the poor conifer crop will be felled and left on site. This tree
felling will be followed-up by a drain-blocking.