What is a Natural Heritage Area?
A Natural Heritage Area or NHA is a piece of land or ‘site’ that is protected because it is thought to have species of animals or plants in that area whose habitats need protection in order to remain functional.
Under the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 NHAs are legally protected from damage! They are also protected by the EU Habitats Directive.
Example of a Natural Heritage Area:
In an Irish context, an example of a Natural Heritage Area would be a raised bog. There are 75 raised bogs located throughout Ireland that have been given legal protection under the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000. Many of these raised bogs are located within the midlands of the island. This is because many red-listed species such as the Grey Partridge inhabit these peatlands, making the protected sites of crucial importance for this species’ conservation within Ireland.
What is a raised bog?
Raised bogs are unique landscapes that are often destroyed by exploitation due to their important economic value as a source of non-renewable fuels (peat) worth billions of Euro to the Irish government.
Raised bogs are raised, dome-shaped lands that consist of peat which have occupied sites that were once lakes or shallow waterbodies that have mostly dried out. They have formed over the last 10,000 years and are characterised by low-growing, exposed areas where vegetation is mainly mosses and heathers as the land is too waterlogged for other vegetation to grow. Raised bogs are not arable lands and are quite acidic, often with a pH of between 1-2.