Conservation and Biodiversity

Protecting and enhancing our natural heritage is vital for the health, wellbeing and quality of life of communities. Natural heritage and biodiversity focus on the variety of wildlife we see around us every day, and the natural landscapes which form our surroundings. 

What is Biodiversity?

Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, is the variety of life we see around us everyday. It includes trees, flowers, insects, mammals, birds, fish and you and me. Biodiversity provides us with many of the essentials that sustain our lives - our oxygen, water, food, clothing and places to relax in.

See what we are doing to safeguard biodiversity in Fingal, and how you can get involved at

Fingal has a rich biodiversity resource with its coast, countryside and urban centres. The biodiversity resource in Fingal is not only of local, national and international nature conservation importance, but it also contributes to the economy through tourism and makes Fingal an attractive place to live. At the moment, Fingal is one of the fastest growing counties in Ireland. The vision for Fingal is to develop and grow in such a way that maintains and enhances biodiversity for future generations. Our natural habitats and their associated plants and animals are valuable assets that need to be cared for and managed and everyone has an important role to play.

The current Fingal Biodiversity Plan 2010-2015 is available to download here. 

Fingal Biodiversity Action Plan 2010 - 2015

Should you have any queries or other comments, please contact Hans Visser,  Biodiversity Officer on 087 1214641 or email [email protected]


Protected Sites

We have a number of natural heritage areas which have been designated as Protected Sites by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NWPS).

You can find out more about protected sites in Chapter 5 of the Fingal Development Plan 2011 to 2017 (page 175).

If a site is listed as protected it doesn’t mean that development can’t take place, but it does mean that a proposed development must be considered carefully in terms of any impacts on the habitats and species of interest at the site, and meet the relevant legislation.

Special Areas of Conservation

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are set out under the European Habitats Directive, to protect wild flora and fauna at Rogerstown and Malahide/Broadmeadow Estuaries, Baldoyle Bay, North Dublin Bay, Howth Head, Lambay Island and Ireland's Eye.

Special Protection Areas

The Fingal coast is especially important for wild birds and designated Special Protection Areas in Fingal include Baldoyle Bay, Rogerstown and Malahide/Broadmeadow Esturaries, Lambay Island and Ireland's Eye, Rockabill Island and Skerries Islands.

Rockabill Island is also designated as a Refuge for Fauna for the roseate tern. Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are concerned with the long-term protection of wild bird species and their habitats, as set out in the European Birds Directive.

SACs and SPAs form a European wide network of sites known as Natura 2000, which Planning Authorities are obliged by law to ensure are protected and conserved.


A wetland is an area of land that is either always covered or seasonally covered in water and has the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem. Ramsar Convention Wetlands are wetlands of international importance, and we have four of these sites in Dublin, Baldoyle Bay, Rogerstown and Malahide/Broadmeadow Estuaries, Bull Island and surrounding parts of Dublin Bay. The state owned lands at Baldoyle Bay and the Dublin Bay lands around the Bull Island are also designated nature reserves.

It is proposed that these areas will be included in a nationwide network of Natural Heritage Areas (NHA) to be designated by the Minister for the Environment.

Legislation governing Protected Sites

Special Amenity Area Orders

The Minister for the Environment can designate Special Area Amenity Orders (SAAOs) for areas of exceptional interest from the point of view of natural, built and cultural heritage. SAAOs are in place for Howth SAAO  and the  Liffey Valley SAAO

The Howth Special Amenity Area Order Committee consists of councillors for the area and local groups, and works to protect and enhance the SAAO area. Minutes of the Committee meetings are available on the Council’s website.

Tree Preservation Orders & Tree Felling Orders

We may make a tree preservation order to protect a tree, group of trees or woodland which may be under threat. Tree preservation orders have been made for three locations in Fingal, The Vicarage, Church Road, Swords; Santry Demesne and Brackenstown/Brazil, Swords.

Tree Preservation Orders & Tree Felling Licences are dealt with by the Department of Agriculture. Application forms can be obtained from local Garda Stations.

Contact the Department of Agricuture
By Post:  Felling Section of the Forest Service
                Department of Agriculture and Food
                Johnstown Castle Estate
                Co. Wexford
Telephone:  (053) 60174 or (053) 60170