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

Lower River Shannon 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:2002-01
Date site confirmed as SCI: No information provided
Date site designated as SAC: No information provided
National legal reference of SAC designation: No information provided


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2.1 Site-centre location [decimal degrees]:


2.2 Area [ha]


2.3 Marine area [%]


2.4 Sitelength [km] (optional):

No information provided

2.5 Administrative region code and name

NUTS level 2 code Region Name
IE02Southern and Eastern
IE02Southern and Eastern

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
1110  info      1353.28  0.00 
1130  info      24273.3  0.00 
1140  info      8808.3  0.00 
1150  info      33.3752  0.00 
1160  info      35288.2  0.00 
1170  info      21421.3  0.00 
1220  info      683.3  0.00 
1230  info      683.3  0.00 
1310  info      0.2214  0.00 
1320  info      683.3  0.00 
1330  info      495.434  0.00 
1410  info      24.6711  0.00 
3260  info      683.3  0.00 
6410  info      683.3  0.00 
91E0  info      15.5649  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.
BA295Acrocephalus schoenobaenus     
BA295Acrocephalus schoenobaenus          DD 
BA200Alca torda    105  105   
BA229Alcedo atthis          DD 
BA054Anas acuta    45  45   
BA056Anas clypeata    84  84   
BA052Anas crecca          DD 
BA052Anas crecca    2319  2319   
BA050Anas penelope    5976  5976   
BA053Anas platyrhynchos          DD 
BA053Anas platyrhynchos    528  528   
BA395Anser albifrons flavirostris          DD       
BA043Anser anser    216  216   
BA169Arenaria interpres    107  107   
BA061Aythya fuligula    272  272   
BA061Aythya fuligula          DD 
BA062Aythya marila    121  121   
BA046Branta bernicla    246  246   
BA149Calidris alpina          DD 
BA149Calidris alpina    20100  20100   
BA143Calidris canutus    800  800   
BA010Calonectris diomedea          DD       
BA137Charadrius hiaticula    240  240   
BA137Charadrius hiaticula          DD 
BA082Circus cyaneus          DD       
BA037Cygnus columbianus bewickii          DD 
BA038Cygnus cygnus    201  201   
BA098Falco columbarius          DD       
BA103Falco peregrinus     
BA009Fulmarus glacialis    66  66   
BA153Gallinago gallinago          DD 
BA153Gallinago gallinago    719  719   
BA003Gavia immer           
BA001Gavia stellata          DD       
BA251Hirundo rustica          DD 
BA251Hirundo rustica          DD 
F1099Lampetra fluviatilis          DD 
F1099Lampetra fluviatilis          DD 
F1096Lampetra planeri          DD 
BA182Larus canus    366  366   
BA183Larus fuscus    100  100   
BA183Larus fuscus          DD 
BA179Larus ridibundus          DD 
BA179Larus ridibundus    2216  2216   
BA157Limosa lapponica    476  476   
BA156Limosa limosa    1062  1062   
BA156Limosa limosa    16400  16400   
BA290Locustella naevia     
M1355Lutra lutra          DD 
I1029Margaritifera margaritifera          DD 
BA160Numenius arquata    1504  1504   
BA015Oceanodroma leucorhoa          DD       
F1095Petromyzon marinus          DD 
F1095Petromyzon marinus          DD 
BA017Phalacrocorax carbo    13  13   
BA017Phalacrocorax carbo    321  321   
BA140Pluvialis apricaria    4708  4708   
BA141Pluvialis squatarola    750  750   
BA346Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax    14  41   
BA249Riparia riparia          DD 
BA249Riparia riparia          DD 
BA188Rissa tridactyla    690  690   
F1106Salmo salar          DD 
BA193Sterna hirundo    15  15   
BA194Sterna paradisaea          DD       
BA191Sterna sandvicensis    34  34   
BA048Tadorna tadorna          DD 
BA048Tadorna tadorna    1060  1060   
BA164Tringa nebularia          DD 
BA164Tringa nebularia    36  36   
BA162Tringa totanus    3228  3228   
BA162Tringa totanus          DD 
M1349Tursiops truncatus    128  152   
BA199Uria aalge    4010  4010   
BA142Vanellus vanellus          DD 
BA142Vanellus vanellus    24581  24581   
  • 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
Agrostemma githago                   
Archidistoma aggregatum                   
Atropa belladonna                   
Chara canescens                   
Chara cf. connivens                   
Coregonus autumnalis pollan                   
Diazona violacea                   
Eleocharis parvula                     
Groenlandia densa                   
Hordeum secalinum                   
Leucojum aestivum                   
Limonium recurvum ssp. Pseudotranswallianum                   
Mentha pulegium                   
Osmerus eperlanus                   
Paracentrotus lividus                   
Rumex maritimus                   
Scirpus triqueter                   
Thymosia guernei                   
Viola hirta                   
  • 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 very large, long site approximately 14 km wide and 120 km long, encompassing: the drained river valley which forms the River Shannon estuary; the broader River Fergus estuary, plus a number of smaller estuaries e.g. Poulnasherry Bay; the freshwater lower reaches of the Shannon River, between Killaloe and Limerick, plus the freshwater stretches of much of the Feale and Mulkear catchments; a marine area at the mouth of the Shannon estuary with high rocky cliffs to the north and south; ericaceous heath on Kerry Head and Loop Head; and several lagoons. The underlying geology ranges from Carboniferous limestone (east of Foynes) to Namurian shales and flagstones (west of Foynes) to Old Red Sandstone (at Kerry Head). The salinity of the system varies daily with the ebb and flood of the tide and with annual rainfall fluctuations seasonally.

4.2 Quality and importance

The site contains many Annexed habitats, including the most extensive area of estuarine habitat in Ireland. A good range of Annexed species are also present, including the only known resident population of Tursiops truncatus in Ireland, all three Irish species of lamprey, and a good population of Salmo salar. A number of birds listed on the EU Birds Directive either winter or breed in the site. The site is internationally important for waterfowl with more than 50,000 individuals occurring in winter. Several species listed in the Irish Red Data Book are present, perhaps most notably the only known Irish populations of Scirpus triqueter.

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

4.4 Ownership (optional)

No information provided

4.5 Documentation (optional)

Anonymous (1996). Limerick Main Drainage EIS: Flora and Fauna, Nature Conservation and Fisheries. A report to Limerick Corporation by Natural Environmental Consultants.Anononymous (1997). Fisheries Conservation Report: Jan. 1996 - April 1997. ESB, Dublin.Berrow, S.D., Holmes, B. and Kiely. O.R. (1996). Distribution and abundance of Bottlenose Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus (Montagu) in the Shannon Estuary. Biology and Environment: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 96B 1:1-9.Berrow, S.D., Mackie, K.L., O' Sullivan, O., Shepherd, K.B., Mellon, C. and Coveney, J.A. (1993). The second International Chough Survey in Ireland, 1992. Irish Birds 5: 1-10.Berrow, S.D. and Holmes, B. (1999). Tour boats and dolphins: A note on quantifying the activities of whale watching boats in the Shannon estuary, Ireland. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 1(2): 199-200.Berrow, S.D., McHugh, B., Glynn, D., McGovern, E., Parsons, K., Baird, R.W. and Hooker, S.K. (2002). Organochlorine concentrations in resident bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Shannon estuary, Ireland. Marine Pollution Bulletin 44: 1296-1313.Berrow, S. (2003). Developing sustainable whalewatching in the Shannon estuary. In Marine Ecotourism: Issues and Experiences. Eds. Garrod, B and Wilson. J. Channel View Publications. ISBN 1-853150-42-3. p198-203.Berrow, S.D., O'Brien, J. and Holmes, B. (2006). Whistle production by Bottlenose Dolphins Tursiops truncatus in the Shannon Estuary. Irish Naturalists' Journal. 28(5): 208-213.Bowman, J.J., Clabby, K.J., Lucey, J., McGarrigle, M.L. and Toner, P.F. (1996). Water Quality in Ireland 1991 - 1994. Environmental Protection Agency, Wexford.Brennan, P. (1990). Loop Head 1989/1990. Report on bird sightings and ringing.Brennan, B.M. and Wilson, J.G. (1993). Spatial and temporal variation in sediments and their nutrient concentrations in the unpolluted Shannon Estuary, Ireland, Arch. Hydrobiol./Suppl.: 75: 4551-486.Central Fisheries Board (2001). Irish Salmon Catches 2000. 2001. Clabby, K.J., Lucey, J., McGarrigle, M.L., Bowman, J.J., Flanagan, P.J. and Toner, P.F. (1992). Water Quality in Ireland 1987-1990. Environmental Research Unit, Dublin.Curtis, T.G.F. and McGough, H.N. (1988). The Irish Red Data Book: 1 Vascular Plants. Stationery Office, Dublin.Delany, S. (1996). I-WeBS Report 1994-94: Results of the first winter of the Irish Wetlands Bird Survey. BirdWatch Ireland, Dublin.Delany, S. (1997). I-WeBS Report 1995-1996: Results of the second winter of the Irish Wetlands Bird Survey. BirdWatch Ireland, Valera, M. (1962). Some aspects of the problem of the distribution of Bifurcaria bifurcata (Velley) Ross on the shores of Ireland, north of the Shannon Estuary. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 62B: 77-99.Doris, Y., Clabby, K.J., Lucey, J. and Lehane, M. (2002). Water Quality in Ireland 1998-2000. Statistical Compendium of River Quality Data. Electronic Publication on Disk. Environmental Protection Agency, Wexford.Englund, A., Ingram, S. and Rogan, E. (2007). Population status report for bottlenose dolphins using the Lower River Shannon SAC, 2006-2007. Final Report to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, 1-35.Englund, A., Ingram, S. and Rogan, E. (2008). An updated population status report for bottlenose dolphins using the Lower River Shannon SAC in 2008. Final Report to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, 1-34.Falvey, J.P., Dempsey, S. and Costello, M.J. (1997). Survey of Estuarine Intertidal Sites in Ireland. Unpublished report to NPWS by ESU, Trinity College, Dublin.Farrell, L. (1982). The distribution of Leucojum aestivum L. in Ireland. The Irish Naturalists' Journal 20: 483-489.Farrell, K.J. and Cawley, A.M. (1996). Hydrographic tracking and oil weathering model for contingency planning and emergency response in the Shannon Estuary, Ireland. Pp. 617-625 in: Keegan, B.F. and O'Connor, R. (eds). Irish Marine Science 1995. Galway University Press, Galway.FitzGerald, R. (1993). Scirpus triqueter on the Shannon. Unpublished notes on survey carried out in July, 1993. NPWS, Dublin.Goodwillie, R. (1972). A Preliminary Report on Areas of Ecological and Geological Interest in Co. Kerry. An Foras Forbartha, Dublin.Goodwillie, R. (1972). A Preliminary Report on Areas of Ecological and Geological Interest in Co. Clare. An Foras Forbartha, Dublin.Hannon, C., Berrow, S.D. and Coveney, J. (In press). 1995 All-Ireland Tern Survey. IWC/RSPB.Healy, B. (1995). Lagoons and Other Enclosed Brackish Waters in the Republic of Ireland. Dept. of Zoology, UCD.Healy, B., Oliver, G., Hatch, P. and Good, J. (1997). Inventory of Lagoons and Saline lakes. Report prepared for NPWS, Dublin.Hutchinson, C. (1979). Ireland's Wetlands and their Birds. IWC, Dublin.Hutchinson, C.D. (1989). Birds in Ireland. Poyser, Calton.Ingram, S. D. (2000). The ecology and conservation of bottlenose dolphins in the Shannon Estuary, Ireland, University College Cork. PhD thesis. 213pp.Ingram, S., Englund, A. and Rogan, E. (2001). An extensive survey of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) on the west coast of Ireland. Report to the Heritage Council. WLD/2001/42. 17ppIngram, S.N. and Rogan, E. (2002). Identifying critical areas and habitat preferences of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Marine Ecology Progress Series 244: 247-255.Ingram, S.N. and Rogan, E. (2003). Estimating abundance, site fidelity and ranging patterns of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Shannon Estuary and selected areas of the west-coast of Ireland. Report to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, 1-28.Kurz, I. and Costello, M.J. (1996). Current Knowledge on the Distribution of Lampreys, and Some Other Freshwater Fish Species Listed in the Habitats Directive, in Ireland. Unpublished report, ESU, Trinity College, Dublin.Kurz, I. and Costello, M.J. (1996). Proposed Special Areas of Conservation for Lampreys and Shad. Unpublished report, ESU, Trinity College, Dublin.Leahy, P. (1986). Oceanographic cruises off the Clare and Galway coasts and in the Shannon Estuary. Pp. 50-63 in: O'Sullivan, G. (ed.). Lough Beltra - 1985. Proceedings of the 1985 Lough Beltra Workshop, Dublin, 26th March, 1986. National Board for Science and Technology, Dublin. Lewarne Sheehan, G.C. () The Geology of Loop Head, Co. Clare. Leaflet in Field Guide Series No. 4, Irish Geological Association, Dublin.Lockley, R.M. (1966). The distribution of grey and common seals on the coasts of Ireland. The Irish Naturalists' Journal 15: 136-43.Lunnon, R. (1996). Otter distribution in Ireland. In: Reynolds, J.D. (ed.) The Conservation of Aquatic Systems, Pp. 111-116. Royal Irish Academy. Lysaght, L. (1988). Westfields Marsh, Limerick. Unpublished report, NPWS files.Mansfield, M.J. and Stapleton, L. (1978). Water quality predictions and waste disposal in the Shannon Estuary - a case study. Pp. 76-92 in: Downey, W.K. and Ní Uid, G. (eds). Coastal Pollution Assessment - Development of Estuaries, Coastal Regions and Environmental Quality. Proceedings of a Seminar held in Cork, Ireland, April 20-21, 1978. National Board for Science and Technology.McCarthy, T.K., Fitzgerald, J., Cullen, P., Doherty, D. and Copley, L. (1997). Zebra Mussels in the River Shannon: Their Present Distribution, Their Probable Ecological Effects, Economic Impact and Prospects for Controlling Their Spread to other Irish River Systems. Report by Zoology Dept., UCG for ESB Fisheries Conservation, Ardnacrusha.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. McMahon, T. (1989). Hydrographic and chemical observations on the Shannon Estuary during 1987. Pp. 88-103 in: O'Sullivan, G. and Gillooly, M. (eds). Lough Beltra - 1987. Proceedings of the 4th Annual Lough Beltra Workshop, Dublin, 23rd March 1988. Fisheries Research Centre, Department of the Marine. McMahon, T.G., Raine, R.C.T., Fast, T., Kies, L. and Patching, J.W. (1992). Phytoplankton biomass, light and attenuation and mixing in the Shannon Estuary, Ireland. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 72: 709-720. Merne, O.J. (1977). The changing distribution of the Bewick's Swan in Ireland. Irish Birds 1: 3-15Merne, O.J. (1985). The infauna of the Shannon and Fergus estuarine mudflats as a food resource for shorebirds. M.Sc. Thesis, Trinity College, Dublin.Moore, D. and Wilson, F. (1999). The National Shingle Survey of Ireland. Unpublished report to National Parks and Wildlife, Dublin. Office of Public Works (1997). Mulkear River (Cappamore) Certified Drainage Scheme: E.I.A. OPW, Dublin.O'Grady, M. (1992). An Environmental Impact Assessment Study of Proposed Drainage Works in the Mulkear Catchment from the Fisheries Perspective: Part 1. Central Fisheries Board, Dublin. O'Leary, C. and Breen, J. (1995). Heavy metal variations in the organs of Mytilus edulis from the Shannon Estuary. In: Fifth Environmental Researchers' Colloquium, University College Cork, January 1995. Biology and Environment: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 95B: 123-168.O Maoileidigh, N., Browne, J., McDermott, T., Cullen, A., Bond, N., McEvoy, B., O'Farrell, M. and O'Connor, W. (1995). Exploitation and Survival of River Shannon Reared Salmon. Fishery Leaflet 164. O'Reilly, P. (1998). Trout and Salmon Rivers of Ireland: an anglers guide. Merlin Unwin Books, London. O'Sullivan, G. (1983). The intertidal fauna of Aughinish Island, Shannon, Co. Limerick. The Irish Naturalists' Journal 21: 62-69.O'Sullivan, G. (1984). Seasonal changes in the intertidal fish and crustacean populations of Aughinish Island in the Shannon Estuary. Irish Fisheries Investigations, Series B (Marine) 28: 1-15.Quigley, D.T.G. (1996). First record of Smelt Osmerus eperlanus L. from the River Suir, together with a review of Irish records. Bulletin of the Irish Biogeographical Society 19: 189-194. Raine, R. (1992). The Irish-German Shannon-Elbe Project. In: Gillooly, M. and O'Sullivan, G. (eds). Lough Beltra 1988. Proceedings of the 5th Annual Lough Beltra Workshop, Galway, 5th and 6th April 1989. Dublin, Fisheries Research Centre, Department of the Marine.Rogan, E., Ingram, S., Holmes, B. and O'Flanagan, C. (2000). A survey of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Shannon Estuary. Marine Institute Marine Resource Series No. 9, 46pp.Ross, E.D. (1988). The Reproductive Biology of Freshwater Mussels in Ireland, with Observations on Their Distribution and Demography. Ph.D. Thesis, University College, Galway.Shannon Regional Fisheries Board, unpublished data.Sharrock, J.T.R. (1976). The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. Poyser, Berkhamstead.Sheppard, R. (1993). Ireland's Wetland Wealth. IWC, Dublin.Southern, R. and Gardiner, A.C. (1926). The seasonal distribution of the Crustacea of the plankton in Lough Derg and the River Shannon. Fisheries, Ireland, Scientific Investigation, 1926, part 1.Stapleton, L. (Ed.) (1975). Birds of Clare and Limerick, IWC Munster Branch, Limerick.Stewart, N.F. and Church, J.M. (1992). Red Data Book of Britain and Ireland: Stoneworts. JNCC, Petersborough.Whelan, K.F. and Roche, W.K. (1986). The Biology and Management of Bunlickey and Cooperhill Lakes. Unpublished report to Irish Cement Ltd. by Central Fisheries Board, Dublin.Whilde, A. (1985). The 1984 All-Ireland Tern Survey. Irish Birds 1: 370-376.Whilde, A. (1993). Threatened Mammals, Birds, Amphibians and Fish in Ireland. Irish Red Data Book 2: Vertebrates. HMSO, Belfast.Whitton, B.A. (1984). Shannon, pp.345-362. In: Ecology of European Rivers. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford.Whittow, J.B. (1975). Geology and Scenery in Ireland. Pelican Books, Harmondsworth.Wilson, J.G., Brennan, M. and Brennan, B. (1993). Horizontal and vertical gradients in sediment nutrients on mudflats in the Shannon Estuary, Ireland. Netherlands Journal of Aquatic Ecology 27: 173-180.Young, R. (1971). Report on Areas of Scientific Interest in Co. Limerick. An Foras Forbartha, Dublin.


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5.1 Designation types at national and regional level (optional):

Code Cover [%]

5.2 Relation of the described site with other sites (optional):

Designated at national or regional level:

Type code Site name Type Cover [%]
IE05City of Limerick (part)*1.00

5.3 Site designation (optional)

No information provided


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6.1 Body(ies) responsible for the site management:

No information provided

6.2 Management Plan(s):

An actual management plan does exist:

No, but in preparation

6.3 Conservation measures (optional)

No information provided



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