Analysis of the Wetland Habitat Evaluation

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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... ... middle of paper ... ...iences, 8 (4), pp. 673--685. Healy, M. G. and Hickey, K. R. (2002) Historic land reclamation in the intertidal wetlands of the Shannon estuary, western Ireland, Journal of Coastal Research, 36 (Special Issue), pp. 365--373. Karatayev, A., Burlakova, L. E. and Padilla, D. K. (2002) Impacts of zebra mussels on aquatic communities and their role as ecosystem engineers. Springer, pp. 433--446. Mitsch, W. J. and Gosselink, J. G. (1993) Wetlands, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. National Parks and Wildlife Services (2012) Conservation Objective Series, Lower River Shannon SAC 002165, Dublin: Department of Arts, Heritage and An Ghaeltacht NATURA Environmental Consultants (2001) Westfields Management Plan, Wicklow: NATURA Environmental Consultants Office of Water (2006) Wetlands: Protecting Life and Property from Flooding, Washington: Environmental Protection Agency
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