Database release:

For Special Protection Areas (SPA),
Proposed Sites for Community Importance (pSCI),
Sites of Community Importance (SCI) and
for Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)



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1.1 Type


1.2 Site code


1.3 Site name

Lough Mask SPA

1.4 First Compilation date


1.5 Update date


1.6 Respondent:

Name/Organisation:National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

1.7 Site indication and designation / classification dates

Date site classified as SPA:1995-11
National legal reference of SPA designation No data


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2.1 Site-centre location [decimal degrees]:


2.2 Area [ha]


2.3 Marine area [%]


2.4 Sitelength [km]:


2.5 Administrative region code and name

NUTS level 2 code Region Name
IE01Border, Midland and Western

2.6 Biogeographical Region(s)

Atlantic (0.00 %)


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3.2 Species referred to in Article 4 of Directive 2009/147/EC and listed in Annex II of Directive 92/43/EEC and site evaluation for them

Species Population in the site Site assessment
G Code Scientific Name S NP T Size Unit Cat. D.qual. A|B|C|D A|B|C
      MinMax  Pop.Con.Iso.Glo.
BA052Anas crecca    99  99     
BA050Anas penelope    84  84     
BA053Anas platyrhynchos    101  101     
BA395Anser albifrons flavirostris    16  16     
BA059Aythya ferina    65  65     
BA061Aythya fuligula    453  453     
BA067Bucephala clangula    89  89     
BA038Cygnus cygnus    54  54     
BA125Fulica atra    112  112     
BA182Larus canus    124  124     
BA183Larus fuscus    286  286     
BA179Larus ridibundus    329  329     
BA069Mergus serrator    12  12     
BA017Phalacrocorax carbo    36  36     
BA193Sterna hirundo    39  39     
  • Group: A = Amphibians, B = Birds, F = Fish, I = Invertebrates, M = Mammals, P = Plants, R = Reptiles
  • S: in case that the data on species are sensitive and therefore have to be blocked for any public access enter: yes
  • NP: in case that a species is no longer present in the site enter: x (optional)
  • Type: p = permanent, r = reproducing, c = concentration, w = wintering (for plant and non-migratory species use permanent)
  • Unit: i = individuals, p = pairs or other units according to the Standard list of population units and codes in accordance with Article 12 and 17 reporting (see reference portal)
  • Abundance categories (Cat.): C = common, R = rare, V = very rare, P = present - to fill if data are deficient (DD) or in addition to population size information
  • Data quality: G = 'Good' (e.g. based on surveys); M = 'Moderate' (e.g. based on partial data with some extrapolation); P = 'Poor' (e.g. rough estimation); VP = 'Very poor' (use this category only, if not even a rough estimation of the population size can be made, in this case the fields for population size can remain empty, but the field "Abundance categories" has to be filled in)

3.3 Other important species of flora and fauna (optional)


Population in the site


Group CODE Scientific Name S NP Size Unit Cat. Species Annex Other categories
     MinMax C|R|V|PIVVABCD
Cygnus olor    49  49               
Salvelinus alpinus                     
Tachybaptus ruficollis    17  17               
  • Group: A = Amphibians, B = Birds, F = Fish, Fu = Fungi, I = Invertebrates, L = Lichens, M = Mammals, P = Plants, R = Reptiles
  • CODE: for Birds, Annex IV and V species the code as provided in the reference portal should be used in addition to the scientific name
  • S: in case that the data on species are sensitive and therefore have to be blocked for any public access enter: yes
  • NP: in case that a species is no longer present in the site enter: x (optional)
  • Unit: i = individuals, p = pairs or other units according to the standard list of population units and codes in accordance with Article 12 and 17 reporting, (see reference portal)
  • Cat.: Abundance categories: C = common, R = rare, V = very rare, P = present
  • Motivation categories: IV, V: Annex Species (Habitats Directive), A: National Red List data; B: Endemics; C: International Conventions; D: other reasons


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4.1 General site character

Habitat class % Cover

Total Habitat Cover


Other Site Characteristics

Lough Mask, at over 8,000 ha, is the sixth largest lake in the country. It extends for over 14 km along its long axis and is on average about 5 km in width. The underlying geology is of Carboniferous limestones, with some shales and sandstones. The main inflowing rivers are the Cloon, Robe and the stream from Lough Carra to the north-east. The main outflow is to Lough Corrib to the south. The lake is shallow off the eastern shore but considerably deeper off the western where there is a long narrow trench with a maximum depth of 58 m. The water of the lake is moderately hard. During the 1990s, the trophic status of Lough Mask has changed from oligotrophic to mesotrophic due to a steady increase in phytoplankton growth. The eastern part of the lake is edged by a low-lying shoreline which is subject to winter flooding. An intricate mixture of plant communities has developed on the limestone, with bare pavement, scrub-dominated pavement, dry grassland and heath. The western shoreline is less diverse and lacks the limestone communities. Islands are a feature of the lake, especially in the south-east sector.

4.2 Quality and importance

Lough Mask is one of the most important sites in the country for nesting Larus ridibundus, Larus canus and Larus fuscus, accounting for 8.4%, 1.7% and 10% of the respective national totals. It also supports a nationally important colony of Sterna hirundo. In winter the site has a range of waterfowl, especially diving duck, with the Aythya fuligula population being of national importance. It also supports Cygnus cygnus and is visited at times by part of the Erriff / Derrycraff population of Anser albifrons flavirostris. The lake has a population of Salvelinus alpinus, a Red Data book species and is an important site for Lutra lutra. Lough Mask is an important salmonid fishery.

4.3 Threats, pressures and activities with impacts on the site

The most important impacts and activities with high effect on the site

Negative Impacts
RankThreats and pressures [code]Pollution (optional) [code]inside/outside [i|o|b]
Positive Impacts
RankActivities, management [code]Pollution (optional) [code]inside/outside [i|o|b]

Rank: H = high, M = medium, L = low
Pollution: N = Nitrogen input, P = Phosphor/Phosphate input, A = Acid input/acidification,
T = toxic inorganic chemicals, O = toxic organic chemicals, X = Mixed pollutions
i = inside, o = outside, b = both

4.5 Documentation

Colhoun, K. (2001). I-WeBS Report 1998-99. BirdWatch Ireland, Dublin. Creme, G.A., Walsh, P.M., O'Callaghan, M. and Kelly, T.C. (1997). The changing status of the lesser black-backed gull Larus fuscus in Ireland. Biology and Environment, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 97B: 149-156. Fox, A.D., Norriss, D.W., Stroud, D.A. and Wilson, H.J. (1994). Greenland White-fronted Geese in Ireland and Britain 1982/83 - 1993/94. Greenland White-fronted Goose Study research report no. 8. Greenland White-fronted Goose Study, Wales and National Parks and Wildlife Service, Dublin. Hannon, C. (1997). The 1995 All-Ireland Tern Survey. BirdWatch Ireland Conservation Report No. 97/1. Hannon, C., Berrow, S.D. and Newton S.F. (1997). The status and distribution of breeding Sandwich Sterna sandvicensis, Roseate S. dougallii, Common S. hirundo, Arctic S. paradisaea and Little Terns S. albifrons in Ireland in 1995. Irish Birds 6: 1-22. Hunt, J., Derwin, J., Coveney, J. and Newton, S. (2000). Republic of Ireland. Pp. 365-416 in Heath, M.F. and Evans, M.I. (eds). Important Bird Areas in Europe: Priority Sites for Conservation 1: Northern Europe. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No. 8). Igoe, F., O'Grady, M.F., Byrne, C., Tierney, D. and Fitzmaurice, P. (2003). Arctic char Salvelinus alpinus (L) in Ireland - a millennium review of its distribution and status with conservation recommendations. Biology and Environment, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 103B: 9-22. Irish Wetland Birds Survey (I-WeBS) Database, 1994/95-2000/01. BirdWatch Ireland, Dublin. McGarrigle, M.L., Bowman, J.J., Clabby, K.J., Lucey, J., Cunningham, P., MacCarthaigh, M., Keegan, M., Cantrell, B., Lehane, M., Clenaghan, C. and Toner, P.F. (2002). Water Quality in Ireland 1998-2000. Environmental Protection Agency, Wexford. McGarrigle, M.L. and Champ, W.S.T. (1999). Keeping pristine lakes clean: Loughs Conn and Mask, western Ireland. Hydrobiologia 395/396: 455-469. Mitchell, P.I., Newton, S., Ratcliffe, N. and Dunn, T. (2004). Seabird 2000: The Status of Breeding Seabirds in Britain and Ireland. Poyser, London. Ruttledge, R.F. and Ogilvie, M.A. (1979). The past and current status of the Greenland White-fronted Goose in Ireland and Britain. Irish Birds 1: 293-363. Sheppard, R. (1993). Ireland's Wetland Wealth. IWC, Dublin. Whilde, A. (1978). A survey of gulls breeding inland in the west of Ireland in 1977 and 1978 and a review of the inland breeding habit in Ireland and Britain. Irish Birds 1: 134-160. Whilde, A. (1985). The All Ireland Tern Survey 1984. Unpublished report for the Irish Wildbird Conservancy, Dublin. Whilde, A., Cotton, D.C.F. and Sheppard, J.R. (1993). A repeat survey of gulls breeding inland in Counties Donegal, Sligo, Mayo and Galway, with recent counts from Leitrim and Fermanagh. Irish Birds 5: 67-72.


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5.1 Designation types at national and regional level:

Code Cover [%]

5.2 Relation of the described site with other sites:

Designated at national or regional level:

Type code Site name Type Cover [%]
IE05Lough Mask Wildfowl Sanctuary+90.00

Designated at international level:

Type Site name Type Cover [%]
Other Lough Mask Wildfowl Sanctuary+90.00


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6.2 Management Plan(s):

An actual management plan does exist:

No, but in preparation



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