Luggala Natural Heritage

Dry Stone Wall repair at Luggala
Manual cutting of heater on Knocknacloghoge (Luggala has a no burn policy) helps diversify and regenerate heather
Work on the invasive non native Rhododendron ponticum has allowed a young oak seedling to germinate and grow

Luggala Natural Heritage

The mission of Luggala Estate Limited is sustainable Estate management. The lands of Luggala are designated EU Natura 2000 both as a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protection Area. In addition, Luggala is in a ‘Blue Dot’ catchment area, a designation set by the EU Water framework Directive. The care and management of these designations is our priority, a significant part of our heritage.

Environmental Management Plan

With support from Wicklow County Partnership and the LEADER programme, throughout 2021 an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) was produced for the Estate. The resulting document provides a roadmap for action to enhance the Estate’s unique landscape and biodiversity, as well as its architectural and archaeological heritage.
This evidence-based document is underpinned by a framework to support the overall conservation goal, which is a resilient future for the upland landscape under our care.

The framework includes the following Environmental Management thematic areas:
• Peatland and heathland habitat restoration
• Control of non-native invasive species
• Recreation & access
• Ancient landscape – cultural heritage conservation
• Water, hydrology and fish,
• Species rich grassland & sustainable grazing
• Upland bird conservation
• Woodland restoration and expansion
• Protection of priority cliff and scree habitats

This conservation vision goes beyond the lifetime of the EMP, supporting long term action to alleviate the biodiversity emergency declared by Wicklow County Council in 2019 and the global climate crises. In time we will see a mosaic of upland habitats restored and enhanced through active land management.

Blanket bogs will have had their hydrology and ecology restored through re-wetting and reduced grazing pressure. These rewetted peatlands will actively absorb carbon and contribute to the Estate’s carbon balances, with hundreds of tonnes being locked up each year. Re-wetted peatlands, which are essential to excellent water quality, will additionally result in reduced rainfall run-off that will lessen the risk of flooding downstream.

Re-covering upland areas with many hectares of new native Birch, Rowan, Holy and Aspect woodland will fringe upland streams, helping to reduce soil erosion. These woodlands will then grow to form a continuous forest cover, linking upland woodland with more established oak woods in the valley downstream.

The cultural heritage of the area will continue to be documented and better protected allowing for a deeper understanding of the Estate’s rich history.

The iconic Lough Tay (the Guinness Lake) will continue to be an iconic feature of Luggala, with its habitats supporting rare plants, birds, and scarce invertebrates.

The crags above will be home to flourishing populations of rare plants and nesting birds of prey, while the river valley will feature species rich acid grassland restored on areas that formerly consisted of dense invasive bracken. The network of old drystone walls surround natural hay meadows and traditional cattle will be part of the low intensity farming and conservation grazing system.

In summary, this conservation action supports a wider community, a sense of place, and a future for our vernacular heritage links. Thank you for engaging with our conservation journey.

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