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

St. John's Point SAC

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 proposed as SCI:1997-11
Date site confirmed as SCI: No data
Date site designated as SAC:2017-11
National legal reference of SAC designation:500/2017


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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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3.1 Habitat types present on the site and assessment for them

Annex I Habitat types Site assessment
Code PF NP Cover [ha] Cave [number] Data quality A|B|C|D A|B|C
      RepresentativityRelative SurfaceConservationGlobal
1160  info      227.869  0.00 
1170  info      868.652  0.00 
1230  info      35.6  0.00 
6210  info  X     16.6556  0.00 
6410  info      13.5617  0.00 
7230  info      53.95  0.00 
8240  info      12.6538  0.00 
8330  info      10.79  0.00 
  • PF: for the habitat types that can have a non-priority as well as a priority form (6210, 7130, 9430) enter "X" in the column PF to indicate the priority form.
  • NP: in case that a habitat type no longer exists in the site enter: x (optional)
  • Cover: decimal values can be entered
  • Caves: for habitat types 8310, 8330 (caves) enter the number of caves if estimated surface is not available.
  • 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)

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.
I1065Euphydryas aurinia          DD 
  • 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
Alcyonium glomeratum                   
Atelecylcus rotundatus                   
Aureliania heterocera                   
Axinella damicornis                   
Axinella dissimilis                   
Bathynectes longipes                   
Biemna variantia                   
Cuthona rubescens                   
Diazona violacea                   
Drachiella spectabilis                   
Eunicella verrucosa                   
Isozoanthus sulcatus                   
Lithothamnion corallioides                   
Luidia sarsi                   
Odontalia dentata                   
Ophiopsila annulosa                   
Parazoanthus anguicomus                   
Parerythropodium coralloides                   
Phakelia vermiculata                   
Reteporella beaniana                   
Thymosia guernei                   
Tritonia nilsodhneri                   
  • 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

A narrow peninsula of carboniferous limestone projecting south-west into Donegal Bay. These limestone rocks are particularly rich in fossils. St. John's Point is exposed to prevailing wind and swells from the west. It drops steeply and in vertical cliffs to 40 m BCD. The predominant vegetation of the site is dry calcareous grassland, but limestone pavement, calcareous marshes, lakes, coastal heath and unimproved wet grassland also occur. Reef occurs around much of the site, but is particularly well developed near the end of the peninsula. Here sea caves are also found.

4.2 Quality and importance

The site is important for both terrestrial and marine habitats. It contains areas of species - rich limestone pavement. This is a rare habitat in Ireland and particularly so in the north-west. The associated dry calcareous grassland is of high quality and in places rich in orchid species. Several areas of species-rich unimproved wet Molinia meadows are found. This habitat is becoming increasingly rare in Ireland through grassland improvement. Small calcareous marshes and an alkaline fen are found on the site. St John's Point has very good examples of circalittoral rock communities that are exposed to wave action and contain a number of rare and uncommon species. Most notable are the shallow circalittoral communities that are characterized by the sea fan, Eunicella verrucosa, and its associated ophistobranch, Tritonia nilsodhneri, which are common, although both are close to the northern limits of their range. Rare species include the sponge, Bienna variantia, the anemone, Aureliania heterocera, and the red alga Odontalia dentata. Additional interesting records for the area include the seaslug Hancockia uncinata, the nocturnal crab Bathynectes longipes, and the anthozoans Paraerythropodium coralloides and Parazoanthus anguicomus. Recent survey suggests that a series of small caves stretches along the south-east coast of the infralittoral and circalittoral reef from Black Rock to Portnagh Rock. These also shelter rare species and deserve further exploration. The shallow bay sediment communities in the site range from being sheltered from, and exposed to, wave action. They are principally composed of maerl gravel formed by Lithothamnion corallioides and populated by rare burrowing anemones (Aureliania heterocera) and starfish (Luidia sarsi). The site is remarkaby undisturbed.

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

Costelloe, J. and Keegan, B.F. (1984). Littoral and benthic investigations on the west coast of Ireland - XIX. Synonomy, diagnostic morphology, distribution and life-style of Aslia lefevrei (Barrois 1882) (Holothurioidea: Echinodermata). Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 84B: 29-35. Holmes, J.M.C., McGrath, D., Picton, B.E. and Mulligan, N. (1983). Records of some interesting crabs from the coast of Ireland. Irish Naturalists' Journal 21: 79-81. Nunn, J. (1990). Recording Mollusca in Ireland: Sea Area 34. Conchologists' Newsletter 115: 330-333. Nunn, J. (1990). The marine Mollusca of Ireland: Donegal, June 1989. Conchologists' Newsletter 114: 308-312. Nunn, J. (1990). The occurrence of the rare nudibranch Hancockia uncinata (Hesse, 1872) at St John's Point, Co Donegal. Irish Naturalists' Journal 23: 341-342. Ó Críodáin, C. (1992). Conservation of Grassland Sites of Scientific Interest in Ireland. A Preliminary Report. National Parks and Wildlife Service, Dublin. Picton, B.E. (undated). Underwater at St John's Point. The Living Countryside 167: 3334 - 3337. Picton, B.E. and Brown, G.H. (1978). A new species of Cuthona (Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia) from the British Isles. Journal of Conchology 29: 345-348. Picton, B.E. (1985). Anthozoans (Coelenterata: Anthozoa) new to Ireland and new records of some rarely recorded species. Irish Naturalists' Journal 21: 484-488. Southward, A.J. and Crisp, D.J. (1954). The distribution of certain intertidal animals around the Irish coast. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 57B: 1-29. Young, R. (1973). A Report on Areas of Biological and Geological Interest in County Donegal. Unpublished report to Donegal County Council. An Foras Forbartha, Dublin.


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6.2 Management Plan(s):

An actual management plan does exist:

No, but in preparation



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