In 1981, UNESCO recognised the importance of Dublin Bay by designating North Bull Island as a Biosphere because of its rare and internationally important habitats and species of wildlife. To support sustainable development, UNESCO’s concept of a Biosphere has evolved to include not just areas of ecological value but also the areas around them and the communities that live and work within these areas. There have since been additional international and national designations, covering much of Dublin Bay, to ensure the protection of its water quality and biodiversity.
To fulfil these broader management aims for the ecosystem, the Biosphere was expanded in 2015. The Biosphere now covers Dublin Bay, reflecting its significant environmental, economic, cultural and tourism importance, and extends to over 300 km2. Over 300,000 people live within the newly enlarged Biosphere.
Dublin Bay Biosphere contains three different zones, which are managed in different ways:
- The core zone of Dublin Bay Biosphere comprises 50 km2 of areas of high natural value. Key areas include the Tolka and Baldoyle Estuaries, Booterstown Marsh, Howth Head, North Bull Island, Dalkey Island and Ireland’s Eye.
- The buffer zone comprises 82 km2 of public and private green spaces such as parks, greenbelts and golf courses, which surround and adjoin the core zones.
- The transition zone comprises 173 km2 and forms the outer part of the Biosphere. It includes residential areas, harbours, ports and industrial and commercial areas.