Lough Ree

Year of compilation: 2000

Site description
Lough Ree is the third-largest lake in Ireland, and is situated on the River Shannon system between Lanesborough and Athlone. The shoreline, with many indented bays, has extensive reedbeds, callow and lowland wet grassland. Land-uses include low-intensity grazing on the grasslands, angling and other recreational uses.

Key biodiversity
This site was designated a Special Protection Area on the basis of its migratory waterfowl, with nationally important numbers of Tachybaptus ruficollis (145 birds, 1985), Anas penelope (1,306 birds, 1985), Anas crecca (584 birds, 1985), Aythya fuligula (1,317 birds, 1985) and Fulica atra (798 birds, 1985). This is also one of only three regular breeding sites in Ireland for Melanitta nigra (37 birds, 1995).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The lake is threatened by nutrient pollution, with organic enrichment coming from agricultural and probably domestic sources. There is increasing pressure on the lake, from leisure developments, such as lakeshore holiday homes, marinas and hotels as well as cruiser traffic. The site lies within a proposed candidate Special Area for Conservation (Lough Ree; area not known).

Protected areas
National None International High10,788 ha of IBA covered by Special Protection Area (Lough Ree, 10,788 ha).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lough Ree. Downloaded from on 13/08/2022.