West Fermanagh Scarplands

Site details

UK map showing location of West Fermanagh Scarplands Special Area of Conservation/Site of Community Importance.
Location of West Fermanagh Scarplands SAC/SCI/cSAC


When undertaking an appropriate assessment of impacts at a site, all features of European importance (both primary and non-primary) need to be considered.

Annex I habitats that are a primary reason for selection of this site

6210 Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) (* important orchid sites)
West Fermanagh Scarplands contains one of the most extensive areas of blue moor-grass Sesleria albicans grassland in Northern Ireland. This calcareous grassland type is similar to the CG9 Sesleria albicansGalium sterneri grasslands of northern England, but lacks a number of the characteristic species, including Galium sterneri. The community at West Fermanagh Scarplands is dominated by S. caerulea, glaucous sedge Carex flacca and wild thyme Thymus polytrichus, and is particularly notable for its transitions to a wide range of other habitats, including 8240 Limestone pavements and 9180 Tilio-Acerion forests of slopes, screes and ravines.
6410 Molinia meadows on calcareous, peaty or clayey-silt-laden soils (Molinion caeruleae)
West Fermanagh Scarplands is one of two sites representing Molinia meadows in Northern Ireland. The site contains a significant proportion of the Northern Ireland resource and includes diverse examples of M24 Molinia caeruleaCirsium dissectum fen-meadow in complex mosaics with other fen-meadow and rush-pasture communities. In places it is exceptionally herb- and sedge-rich, ranging from short, grazed swards through to stands that are transitional to scrub and wet heath. Characteristic species include meadow thistle Cirsium dissectum, sharp-flowered rush Juncus acutiflorus and the moss Breutelia chrysocoma.
8240 Limestone pavements  * Priority feature
The limestone pavement within the West Fermanagh Scarplands occurs on Carboniferous limestone. Although development has not been deep (possibly due to the intensity of glacial action), it is the most extensive area of this distinctive habitat in Northern Ireland. The grikes provide a niche for a varied assemblage of ferns and higher plants. Wall-rue Asplenium ruta-muraria, black spleenwort A. trichomanes, brittle bladder-fern Cystopteris fragilis and hart’s-tongue Phyllitis scolopendrium are widespread, as are herb-Robert Geranium robertianum, wood-sorrel Oxalis acetosella and hazel Corylus avellana. The clint surfaces support typical calcareous grassland.
9180 Tilio-Acerion forests of slopes, screes and ravines  * Priority feature
West Fermanagh Scarplands represents the largest area of Tilio-Acerion forests in Northern Ireland. The limestone soils tend to be freely-draining and the canopy is generally dominated by ash Fraxinus excelsior, with hazel Corylus avellana and occasional hawthorn Crataegus monogyna, rowan Sorbus aucuparia and holly Ilex aquifolium in the understorey. Bramble Rubus fruticosus agg., stone bramble R. saxatilis and a diverse fern community form a characteristic field layer. The ground flora is species-rich and is often dominated by meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria and wood-sorrel Oxalis acetosella, with species such as primrose Primula vulgaris, barren strawberry Potentilla sterilis, herb-robert Geranium robertianum and common dog-violet Viola riviniana. Other species that commonly occur include great wood-rush Luzula sylvatica, bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta, wood anemone Anemone nemorosa and ramsons Allium ursinum. Bryophytes form a dense carpet over soils and exposed rock faces and boulders. The woods are particularly rich in species that are scarce in Northern Ireland, including toothwort Lathraea squamaria, bird’s nest orchid Neottia nidus-avis, Welsh poppy Meconopsis cambrica, wood fescue Festuca altissima, thin-spiked wood sedge Carex strigosa and the lichen Lobaria pulmonaria. Epiphytic bryophytes are well-developed on tree trunks and branches throughout the woodlands, which are also important for their exceptionally rich and diverse fungal assemblage.

Annex I habitats present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for selection of this site

3150 Natural eutrophic lakes with Magnopotamion or Hydrocharition - type vegetation
4010 Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix
7130 Blanket bogs (* if active bog)  * Priority feature
7220 Petrifying springs with tufa formation (Cratoneurion)  * Priority feature
7230 Alkaline fens

Annex II species that are a primary reason for selection of this site

Not applicable.

Annex II species present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection

Not applicable.

Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.