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Environment, Climate Change & Agriculture

Rosmurrevagh Sand Dune & Machair Conservation

Community, nature-based conservation of Rosmurrevagh sand dunes and Machair, one of Europe’s rarest habitats.

Confined to just 26,000 hectares worldwide Machair is one of the most unique habitats our planet possesses. Mulranny’s Clew Bay coastline is dominated by Rosmurrevagh Machair, (Irish Ross Magh Riabhach) meaning ‘the Promontory of the grey plain’.

On the western seaboard, low, flat, windswept sand plains known as Machair are found. Machair consists of a mixture of siliceous sand derived from glacial tills and sediments and calcerous sand derived from the shells of animals which lived on the offshore platform. Machair beaches are often found between rocky outcrops or in small bays between headlands. The upper limit of the beach is usually marked by a pebble or cobble ridge behind which there are dunes as is evident on the Mulranny Machair. Behind the dunes there is a gentle sloping plain whose degree of flatness is a reflection of age. The level of the machair plain is controlled by the underlying water table. Hence many machair areas are flooded during winter. A seaward escarpment marks the landward limit of the plain. The Mulranny Machair is a completely vegetation covered coastal plain, marram and lyme grass being the most common variety found. Orchids can also be found here on occasions. Grazing has an important role in machair formation and keeps the characteristic plant community in balance.

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