Habitats of the Burren
The Burren is sometimes referred to as a ‘lunar landscape’, and many people’s image of the Burren is of a massive sheet of bare rock intersected by deep fissures. However the reality is much different and more interesting. A wide variety of habitats exist in the Burren, everything from bare limestone pavements to some of the most fertile improved grasslands found in the country. Sometimes these diverse habitats are found within the same field, where a single step may take you from a limestone pavement, across a heath and into an orchid-rich grassland.
But the significance of the Burren is the presence of so many relatively rare habitats over so large an area, offering excellent ‘connectivity’ in contrast with the fragmented nature of such habitats elsewhere. The major habitats in the Burren, described below, are limestone pavements, orchid-rich calcareous grasslands, limestone heaths, scrub and woodlands, wet grasslands, turloughs, calcareous springs and fens. Over 30,000ha of the Burren has been designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), under the EU Habitats Directive, a reflection of the importance of these habitats.