Lough Muckno and Environs Biodiversity Study reveals a wildlife wonderland
Lough Muckno, Castleblayney is County Monaghan’s largest lake and is considered to be its most beautiful. The lake and its surroundings have many functions and benefits for people but is also a place with a wide variety of important wildlife species and habitats. We know that nature is under severe pressure, and Lough Muckno is no exception. If we are to protect and restore nature at Lough Muckno we first need to know what we have there – the birds, mammals, aquatic species, plant life etc and the condition of the various habitats in which they are found.
To that end, the Friends of Lough Muckno group arranged for Oriel River Catchments and Coastal Association (ORCCA) – a rivers’ trust – to lead a Biodiversity Study of Lough Muckno and its environs over the course of 2023. LEADER funding was secured for the project and JBA Consulting was engaged to carry out desktop assessment and on-site surveying and to compile a comprehensive report. This landmark report has now been published.
The surveying work involved recording of terrestrial mammals, bats, birds, amphibians and invertebrates in the study area. Sensitive species such as Otters were found to be residing in significant numbers around Lough Muckno. In addition, a variety of bat species, woodland birds, sensitive waterbirds and amphibians were found, demonstrating the area’s rich biodiversity. Sensitive species such as these are under threat from habitat loss and increased human disturbance.
Habitat surveys were also conducted, and these included a particular focus on woodlands. These woodland surveys revealed the presence of ‘Alluvial forests’, regarded as important ‘Annex I’ priority habitats that need to be conserved.
A significant number of biodiversity recommendations are suggested in the report. One of the key recommendations is that local biodiversity projects be developed and supported. These could range from local nature studies / citizen science projects to larger ecological restoration projects. The detailed information on habitats and species in the Biodiversity Study report can be regarded as baseline data that can be used as a resource for a wide variety of projects.
It is vital that any future recreation and tourism development at Lough Muckno take account of the information contained in the report so that the rich variety of habitats and species that have now been recorded in the study report are protected for future generations.
The Friends of Lough Muckno group and ORCCA would like to thank all who were involved in, or supported, the project, including ecologists from JBA Consulting, local landowners who cooperated with the study, local nature enthusiasts who provided information on local wildlife and habitats, all the members of Friends of Lough Muckno and ORCCA and finally the LEADER programme for funding support.