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Burren Mapping

Mapping the broad habitats of the Burren using satellite imagery (2005)

A 2-year collaborative study between University College Dublin and Teagasc successfully used satellite imagery to survey and map the extent and spatial distribution of broad habitat types within the Burren, Co. Clare. The map provides the first estimate of the area of the Burren affected by scrub encroachment – this being one of the most significant threats to the EU priority habitats in the region. This map is the first to show the area and distribution of the different habitats of the Burren. Comparisons between this survey and those in the future will allow measurement of changes in habitats in the Burren.

On a particularly challenging area with a high diversity and complexity of habitats, remote sensing appeared to offer a very effective and cost-efficient alternative to broad-scale habitat mapping on a field-by-field basis.

This work provides an important tool in aiding future decisions as to how the habitats of the Burren should be managed to the benefit of both the farmer and the environment.

For further information, contact Dr John Finn john.finn[at]teagasc.ie

Further information

Parr, S., O’Donovan, G. Ward, S. and Finn, J.A. 2009. Vegetation analysis of upland Burren grasslands of conservation interest. Biology and Environment. 109B:11-33.

Finn, J.A., Parr, S., and O’Donovan, G. Mapping the Burren. 2006. TResearch. 1 (1): 14-16. Teagasc. ISSN 1649-8917 TResearch Article

Parr, S., O’Donovan, G. and Finn, J.A. 2006. Mapping the Broad Habitats of the Burren using Satellite Imagery. RMIS 5190c End of Project Report

See also the BurrenLIFE project


This research was made possible by a research award from the Research Stimulus Fund of the Department of Agriculture and Food, funded by the Irish Government under that National Development Plan 2000 – 2006. RSF 117: ‘A GIS baseline survey of habitat types and vegetation composition in the karst region of the Burren, Co. Clare’ (2003-2005). We are very grateful to the farmers of the Burren and the Burren IFA for their support and co-operation. James Moran provided the image of spring gentians.

Legend for map image:
An example of habitats identified in the Burren from 2003 satellite imagery. Woodland and closed canopy scrub are seen here as dark brown. Calluna heath and low open scrub are shown in purple.