Cruninish Island ASSI

Protected area type: Areas of Special Scientific Interest
Feature type: 
  • Habitat
  • Species
  • Fermanagh
Council: Fermanagh and Omagh
Guidance and literature: Cruninish Island ASSI

This area is of special scientific interest because of its species-rich wet grassland and breeding waders. Species-rich grassland tends to occur only where land management is not intensive, in particular where traditional farming practices have been maintained. As a result, it is not a widespread habitat in Northern Ireland and is often fragmented, consisting of individual fields, parts of fields or banks. Species-rich wet grasslands, like those found at Cruninish Island, are a particularly scarce resource in Northern Ireland.

Cruninish Island is a lightly grazed drumlin island in the Northern section of Lower Lough Erne. The island has a central ridge that gently slopes down to the lough shore. The top of the island is drier and freely draining and as water moves down the slopes towards the lough wide extensive areas of flushed vegetation have been created. This combination of topography and the related soil hydrology has resulted in an interesting range of species-rich wet grasslands over the island. These vary from drier, grassy rush pasture on the more elevated areas to fen meadow, with base-loving plants present along the slopes and shoreline.

It is one of the most important sites for breeding waders in Northern Ireland. The density of nests, at nearly 3 per hectare, is one of the highest recorded in Northern Ireland.

The vegetation on the island is dominated by sharp-flowered rush, with a variety of grasses and sedges and in places is markedly species-rich. This provides cover for nests and young birds.

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