Analysis Of The Wetland Habitat Evaluation

2461 words - 10 pages

Westfields, a medium sized wetland region, is located on the outskirts of Limerick city and within the floodplain of the River Shannon (CAAS (Environmental Services) Ltd., 1999). Wetland regions are broadly defined within the Ramsar Convention (1971, 1), as, “areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt including areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres.” Identified as some of the most diverse habitats on earth, wetlands are also under severe threat, with a “10% decrease in their area occurring worldwide between the years 1990 and 2006” (CORINE, 2006). Westfields is no exception. Known worldwide for the diverse flora and fauna, in particular avifauna, that are present, the area has seen a dramatic decrease in size from its traditional expansive domain to a present area of twenty-six hectares. Thus, this essay aims to examine in detail the biogeographic merits of these declining wetland regions in particular Westfields, record the current condition of this particular wetland, and explore potential ideas for future conservation.
Historically, Westfields was part of an interconnected wetland complex which surrounded the Shannon estuary. However typical of many other Western societies, with the Netherlands perhaps being the prime example, anthropogenic activities, in particular land reclamation severely altered portions of the wetland environment. Historical evidence reveals reclamation in certain areas of the Shannon estuary as early as the 10th century, however, such attempts were not made at Westfields until the 1830s (Healy and Hickey, 2002). In the early years of this decade, an embankment was constructed by Joseph Barrington “below Limerick with a view to reclaiming land, specifically those areas between Coonagh and the city” (NATURA Environmental Consultants, 2001, p.2). This project may be seen as relatively successful, with the lands outlined now suitable for agriculture, however, a small spring (approximately one-two metres in depth) located at the heart of the Westfields region maintained this particular area of wetland, assisting by waters from the tidal Shannon. The next significant development occurred in the 1960’s with the construction to the north of Westfield Park, a housing estate with approximately thirty-eight houses. While construction occurred on the outskirts of the wetlands, a significant area was destroyed with the construction of a footpath, linking the new development with the previously constructed embankment. The final development, which created the wetlands we see today, was that of the Condell Road in 1984, linking the Shannon Bridge with the Ennis Road. This primary route which “runs diagonally from the North East to the South West” not only destroyed valuable habitat, it also made life difficult for certain species, to cross from one area of the wetland to another...

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