Over 31,000 species have been documented for Ireland. Species diversity in Ireland is maintained because of the variety of habitats and environmental conditions available for plants and animals to live and reproduce. This diversity of species is threatened because of persistent management and other human induced changes leading to the reduction of habitat quality and general environmental degradation. For the taxonomic groups for which formal conservation assessments have been completed we know that, on average, just over 20% of species are threatened with extinction in Ireland. Here is a selection of just 10 of Ireland’s most threatened species.

Curlew

Curlew
The breeding population of Curlew in Ireland has suffered a dramatic decline from about 5,000 breeding pairs in the late 1980s to currently as few as 130 breeding pairs. This is a decline of about 97% over 20 years. They nest in damp, rushy pastures and bogland. The decline has come about because of the loss of these damp rushy pastures as a result of land 'improvement', land abandonment and afforestation, and to nest destruction by predation. Good numbers of Curlew are still seen during the winter months, as birds that have bred in Scotland and Scandinavia arrive to our shores to spend the winter months (Photograph: Ken Billington).