Ballynahone Bog RAMSAR

Protected area type: Ramsar Sites
Feature type: 
  • Habitat
  • Londonderry
Council: Mid-Ulster
Guidance and literature: Ballynahone Bog RAMSAR

Ballynahone Bog is situated in Londonderry in the centre of Northern Ireland. It is one of the largest lowland raised bogs in Northern Ireland formed in the valley of the Moyola River which flows into Lough Neagh. The raised bog which covers most of the site exhibits the full range of characteristic vegetation and structural features associated with this type of habitat and is surrounded by cut-over bog with poor fen and birch woodland.

The site qualifies under criterion 1a of the Ramsar Convention by being a particularly good representative example of lowland raised bog.
In western Europe most of the relatively intact raised bogs occur in the UK and Ireland.

This site is one of the two largest intact active bogs in Northern Ireland with hummock and hollow pool complexes and represents one of the best examples of this habitat type in the UK.

The classic domed profile of the deep peat exhibits a wide range of characteristic vegetation and structural features, with pool, hummock and lawn complexes. The bog vegetation is characterised by a high percentage cover of Sphagnum mosses, dwarf-shrubs and other associated species.
On the greater part of the bog plain the prominent species include heather, cross-leaved heath, hare's-tail cottongrass, common cottongrass, and deergrass.

Additional well represented species within the sward include bog asphodel and white beak-sedge, with occasional patches of bog-myrtle. Sphagnum mosses generally form scattered hummocks throughout the area.
Flat, water-logged "lawns" alongside pools are characterised by the prominence of such species as cross-leaved heath, bog asphodel, white beak-sedge and common cottongrass, over a Sphagnum magellanicum moss carpet.

The abundance of cranberry in these areas is also notable. Typically, the pools are dominated by Sphagnum cuspidatum, with bogbean abundant in a number of them. Lesser bladderwort and great sundew are also frequent in some pools with the nationally rare Sphagnum pulchrum often occurring around the edges.

Within the pool system, the main hummock-forming mosses are Sphagnum papillosum and Sphagnum capillifolium. The liverwort Pleurozia purpurea, a species generally associated with more oceanic areas to the west, is also found occasionally. The lagg surrounding the lowland raised bog has been extensively cut for turf, creating a mosaic of habitats which are dependent on peat depth and age of cutting.

Vegetation communities vary from 'poor' fen, through purple moor-grass grassland and heath, to extensive areas of scrub and young woodland, mainly dominated by downy birch. The peatland species occurring on the site include a number of scarce species typical of lowland raised bogs such as the bog-rosemary and invertebrates such as the large heath butterfly.

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