Ireland was separated from the European mainland after the last Ice Age. As
result the island has a smaller range of flora and fauna than is
elsewhere in Europe.
In the Burren area, an Arctic-Alpine plants survive from the last
Ireland's bogs host a large variety of bog-moss species together
and sedges. In the south west (Cork and Kerry), there are areas
rich in plants
that thrive in the mildness and humidity of this region's
The once extensive oak forests were cleared over most of the country by
seventeenth century. In recent decades a re-afforestation programme
favoured Sitka spruce, Scots, contorta and other pines, larches, Norway
and Douglas fir. There are nature reserves and national parks throughout
Of some 380 species of wild birds recorded in Ireland, 135 breed in
country. There is considerable migration of birds to Ireland in spring
autumn, while several species arrive from Greenland and Iceland in winter;
per cent of the world's population of the Greenland whitefronted goose
Inland waters support colonies of swans, geese, waders, duck, tern and
Game shooting is strictly controlled and State-assisted restocking
augment stocks of wild game birds. Among the more unusual species of
merlin, peregrine falcons, corncrake and chough.
Amphibians are represented by a single native species each of frog,
(natterjack) and newt. There are no snakes and there is only one native
reptile, the common lizard.
Freshwater species of fish include salmon, char, pollan, eel, pike and
Mammals are similar to those found throughout the temperate regions of
There are 31 species of mammals including red deer, fox, badger, red
otter, grey seals, common seals and many cetacean species. The Irish
the Irish hare are interesting examples of native development.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service is responsible for conservation
Republic of Ireland. Most species of wild fauna and several species of
flora are protected.
Conservation of wildlife habitats is achieved through
the creation of nature
reserves of which there are 75, together with 5 refuges
for fauna and the
designation of special protection areas for wild birds.
National Parks and Wildlife Service is also responsible for the development
management of national parks and nature reserves.
To date, five national parks
have been established. All five meet international
standards for national
parks, conserving as they do outstanding parts of the
are located at Killarney, Co. Kerry; Glenveagh, Co. Donegal; Connemara,
Galway; The Burren, Co. Clare; and the Wicklow Mountains, Co. Wicklow.
recent years State forests have been opened to the public. There are 11
forest parks and over 400 smaller amenities. Public access is generally