Aran Islands (parts)

Site description (2000 baseline):

Site location and context
Inishmaan is the middle of the three Aran Islands situated approximately 15 km off the west coast of County Clare. The island is an extension of the karstic Carboniferous limestone region of the Burren. It consists of dry calcareous grassland, coastal dune and machair habitats. Inishmore, and a group of small islands (Brannock Islands, including Rock Island) lying to its west, have been added to this site since its listing in the previous pan-European inventory (Grimmett and Jones 1989). Low-intensity farming methods have maintained the species-richness and diversity of the flora.

Key biodiversity
This area supports the largest discrete breeding colony of Sterna paradisaea in Ireland, most of which occur on Rock Island. Low numbers of Sterna albifrons (3 pairs, 1995) breed on Inishmaan. Other breeding seabirds at this site include Phalacrocorax carbo, Phalacrocorax aristotelis, Fulmarus glacialis and Cepphus grylle (140 birds on Inishmore, 1999).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Agricultural intensification would have a significant negative effect upon this site. Tourism is an important industry on the Aran Islands, especially Inishmore, and needs to be controlled to minimize the impact to the environment. Terns Sterna on Inishmaan are vulnerable to disturbance. Two proposed candidate Special Areas for Conservation (Inishmaan, 928 ha; Inishmore, 20 ha) lie within the IBA.

Protected areas
National None International None

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Aran Islands (parts). Downloaded from on 01/10/2023.