A habitat is the place where plants and animals live. There are many different types of habitats. Woodlands, rivers, beaches and local parks - these are just a few. Even your own back garden can be a habitat for birds, bees and butterflies. Some animals and plants can live in a variety of habitats, while others can only live in one particular habitat.

Most of the habitats in Ireland have been modified to a greater or lesser extent by the activities of man, and so few can be considered fully natural. We use the term ‘semi-natural’ to describe habitats that have been modified over time but are still somewhat wild, for example old sand dunes or deciduous woodland that have been partly planted. These habitats would have a high Biodiversity value. Other habitats are totally modified by mans activities, for example football pitches or farmland that is cut for sileage. These habitats generally have a low Biodiversity value.

Some habitats are so rare throughout Europe that they are protected under EU law. These are called Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) or Special Protected Areas (SPAs) and we have a number of these in Fingal. Areas of national importance are designated as Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs). In Fingal, we also have many habitats which are really important locally, for example small areas of saltmarsh or semi-natural grasslands. Some parts of Fingal have more semi-natural habitats than others. Howth head and the Burrow in Portrane are good examples of this.
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