Our important wetlands in the Dublin Bay Biosphere

Tuesday, 2nd February 2021 marks World Wetlands Day and 50 years since the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands - an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation of wetlands and their resources.

Wetlands are areas flooded by water, either permanently or on a seasonal basis and they can be natural or artificial (constructed). Wetland habitat types in Ireland include freshwater – lakes, rivers, marshes and swamps; saltwater - estuaries, mudflats, saltwater marshes, lagoons and coral reefs; and constructed – ponds and reservoirs. While we may overlook these areas at first, wetlands are some of the most ecologically-diverse areas on Earth. Wetlands are extremely rich in biodiversity and many species of plants and animals are completely dependent on them.


North Bull Island (picture above) contains unique habitats that support a range of species throughout the year. Photo credit: Brendan Norris.

Worldwide, wetlands provide crucial ecosystem services for us, providing fresh water; filtering harmful waste from water; and providing vital food sources and livelihoods. Wetlands are also key in our fight against climate change as they sequester carbon and protect us from flooding, coastal erosion and drought. As well as these key services, wetlands offer us beautiful places to visit, amazing animals to see and a multitude of recreational outlets for tourism, water sports, fishing and nature exploration.


Here in the UNESCO Dublin Bay Biosphere, we have a wealth of wetlands right on our doorstep that have international importance for wildlife. The wetlands at North Bull Island, Sandymount Strand and Baldoyle Bay are Ramsar designated sites, and along with Booterstown Marsh offer a range of unique habitats that support numerous species of birds, plants and insects across the Bay. At this time of year they are a great place to see migratory waterbirds, such as ducks, geese, swans and wading birds that spend the winter in the Bay. Then in a few weeks the city’s ponds will be alive with spawning frogs before summer heralds an abundance of growth and activity. Our wetlands do have it all, we just need to stop and take a closer look.

Dublin’s wetlands are crucial for visiting migratory birds, including the iconic Light-bellied Brent Goose (pictured above) that overwinter here from Arctic Canada. Photo credit: Clive Timmons

To find out more about our wetlands and World Wetlands Day, check out the link below.

Irish Wetlands Website