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

Wexford Harbour and Slobs 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:1985-08
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
IE02Southern and Eastern

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.
BA054Anas acuta    67  67     
BA056Anas clypeata    24  24     
BA052Anas crecca    1002  1002     
BA050Anas penelope    2800  2800     
BA053Anas platyrhynchos    3035  3035     
BA051Anas strepera    20  20     
BA395Anser albifrons flavirostris    9353  9353     
BA169Arenaria interpres    41  41     
BA222Asio flammeus       
BA059Aythya ferina    218  218     
BA061Aythya fuligula    114  114     
BA062Aythya marila    354  354     
BA046Branta bernicla    1380  1380     
BA067Bucephala clangula    126  126     
BA144Calidris alba    105  105     
BA149Calidris alpina    1772  1772     
BA143Calidris canutus    252  252     
BA137Charadrius hiaticula    69  69     
BA037Cygnus columbianus bewickii    213  213     
BA038Cygnus cygnus    120  120     
BA026Egretta garzetta    12  12     
BA125Fulica atra    353  353     
BA130Haematopus ostralegus    1090  1090     
BA182Larus canus    47  47     
BA179Larus ridibundus    1274  1274     
BA157Limosa lapponica    1417  1417     
BA156Limosa limosa    647  647     
BA069Mergus serrator    153  153     
BA160Numenius arquata    1301  1301     
BA017Phalacrocorax carbo    177  177     
BA151Philomachus pugnax    10  20     
BA151Philomachus pugnax    10  20     
BA140Pluvialis apricaria    5590  5590     
BA141Pluvialis squatarola    848  848     
BA005Podiceps cristatus    100  100     
BA048Tadorna tadorna    359  359     
BA161Tringa erythropus       
BA161Tringa erythropus    10     
BA166Tringa glareola       
BA164Tringa nebularia    12  12     
BA165Tringa ochropus    10     
BA165Tringa ochropus       
BA162Tringa totanus    249  249     
BA142Vanellus vanellus    10387  10387     
  • 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    334  334               
Lepus timidus hibernicus                     
Lepus timidus hibernicus                     
Lepus timidus hibernicus                     
Passer montanus    10  10               
Passer montanus    10  10               
Puccinellia fasciculata                     
Tachybaptus ruficollis    76  76               
  • 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

Wexford Harbour is the lowermost part of the estuary of the River Slaney, a major river that drains much of the south-east region. The site is divided between the natural estuarine habitats of Wexford Harbour and the reclaimed polders known as the north and south 'slobs'. The seaward boundary extends from the Rosslare peninsula in the south to the area just west of The Raven Point in the north, while the inner boundaries of the site extend to Ferrycarrig bridge and towards Castlebridge. Shallow marine water is a principal habitat, but at low tide extensive areas of intertidal flats are exposed. These vary from rippled sands in exposed areas to sandy-muds in the more sheltered areas, especially at Hopeland and the inner estuary to the west of Wexford bridge. Salt marshes fringe the intertidal flats, especially in the sheltered areas. The slobs are two flat areas of farmland, mainly arable and pasture grassland, empoldered behind 19th century sea-walls. The lands are drained by a network of channels which flow into two central channels, in parts several hundred metres in width. Water from the channels is pumped into the sea with electric pumps. The channels often support swamp vegetation. Several conifer plantations are included, especially on the south slob.

4.2 Quality and importance

This site is of international importance for several species of waterfowl but also because it regularly supports well in excess of 20,000 waterfowl. It is one of the top three sites in the country for numbers and diversity of wintering birds. Of particular importance is that it is one of the two most important sites in the world for Anser albifrons flavirostris. It also has internationally important populations of Branta bernicla hrota, Cygnus columbarius bewickii and Limosa lapponica, and is now one of the few sites in the country which supports a regular flock of Cygnus columbarius bewickii. There is at least a further 22 species of wintering waterfowl which occur in numbers of national importance. Several of these represent substantial proportions of the national totals, especially Anas penelope (3.1%), Anas platyrhynchos (3.6%), Anas acuta (3.3%), Aythya marila (4.9%), Mergus serrator (4.1%), Pluvialis apricaria (3.7%), Pluvialis squatarola (11.3%), Vanellus vanellus (5.1%) and Limosa limosa (3.6%). Numbers of wintering birds are often swelled by hard-weather movements from Europe, notably Pluvialis apricaria and Vanellus vanellus. The site is a regular location for Philomachus pugnax during passage and in winter, and is regularly visited by a range of other passage waders, most notably Tringa glareola, Tringa erythropus and Tringa ochropus. Asio flammeus is a regular visitor in small numbers to the slobs during winter. A nesting colony of Egretta garzetta has recently become established within the site and birds are present in the area throughout the year. Passer montanus, a Red Data Book species, breeds. Part of the North Slob is a Nature Reserve and much of the slob is managed for the benefit of the wintering geese. Monitoring of the wintering birds of the slobs extends back to the 1960s and nowadays there is an ongoing monitoring and research programme. The North Slob has a wildfowl collection and an interpretative centre. The site supports Puccinellia fasciculata, a Red Data Book species, and has a good population of Lepus timidus hibernicus.

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. Cummins, S., O'Halloran, J., Wilson, C. and Norriss, D. (2000). An assessment of the diet of nestling Tree Sparrows Passer montanus in southeast Ireland. Irish Birds 6: 507-512. Curtis, T.G.F. and Sheehy Skeffington, M.J. (1998). The salt marshes of Ireland: an inventory and account of their geographical variation. Biology and Environment, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 98B: 87-104. Falvey, J.P., Costello, M.J. and Dempsey, S. (1997). Survey of Intertidal Biotopes in Estuaries in Ireland. Unpublished report to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Dublin. 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. 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). 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. Merne, O.J. (1989). Important bird areas in the Republic of Ireland. In: Grimmett, R.F.A. and Jones, T.A. (eds). Important Bird Areas in Europe. ICBP Technical Publication No. 9. Cambridge. Rowe, D. and Wilson, C.J. (eds) (1996). High Skies - Low Lands. An Anthology of the Wexford Slobs and Harbour. Duffry Press, Wexford. 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.


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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 [%]
Wexford Wildfowl Reserve Nature Reserve+1.00
The Raven Nature Reserve/0.00
IE01Wexford Wildfowl Reserve Nature Reserve+6.00
IE05Rosslare Point Wildfowl Sanctuary/0.00
IE05Tern Island Wildfowl Sanctuary+1.00
IE01The Raven Nature Reserve/0.00

Designated at international level:

Type Site name Type Cover [%]
Other Wexford Wildfowl Reserve Nature Reserve+1.00
The Raven Nature Reserve/0.00
Wexford Wildfowl Reserve Nature Reserve+6.00
Rosslare Point Wildfowl Sanctuary/0.00
Tern Island Wildfowl Sanctuary+1.00
The Raven Nature Reserve/0.00


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6.2 Management Plan(s):

An actual management plan does exist:

No, but in preparation



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