The Slieve Blooms is an isolated, inland mountain range, which straddles
the border between counties Offaly and Laois. The site supports an extensive
area of mountain blanket bog habitat and includes the headwaters of several
important river systems, including the River Barrow. Adjacent to the SAC,
the lower mountain slopes of the Slieve Blooms are extensively afforested.
The project area is 252 hectares in size which occurs over 8 different
sub-sites, distributed throughout the mountain range.
The upland blanket bog on the Slieve Blooms is considered to be one of the best and least disturbed areas of mountain blanket bog habitat in the country. The vegetation is dominated by ling heather (Calluna vulgaris) which is generally accompanied by a well-developed carpet of mosses (mainly Sphagnum capillifolium and Hypnum jutlandicum) and various lichens. Other frequent plant species include crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and deer sedge (Trichophorum cespitosum).
An unusual feature is the abundance of cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos) and bog rosemary (Andromeda polifolia). The blanket bog at this site is relatively undisturbed by grazing and burning. The main impact of afforestation on the upland habitats at present is the regeneration of Sitka spruce and lodgepole pine onto intact bog and heath from adjacent forestry plantations. Within this site the project primarily focusses on the removal of these naturally regenerating conifers with drain blocking also to carried out within certain sub-sites. This drain-blocking is largely confined to the margins of the sub-sites.