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Dublin Bay New UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

Dublin Bay

Dublin Bay New UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

Dublin bay has been recognised as a Biosphere reserve by the UNESCO.  Bull Island was first recognised as a reserve in 1981, and now the rest of Dublin Bay has been awarded one. Other worldwide UNESCO biospheres include the Skocjan Caves Park in Slovenia, Serra Do Esphinhaço in Brazil and Cat Ba in Vietnam.

Dublin Bay 1

Skocjan Caves Park in Slovenia   

Dublin Bay 2

Serra Do Esphinhaço in Brazil

Dublin Bay 3

Cat Ba in Vietnam

The core zone, buffer zone and transition zone in Dublin Bay are all part of the reserve.  This means that about 300,000 Dubliners live near a UNESCO biosphere. The core zone is a protected ecosystem as are parts of Howth.  The buffer zone includes various parks, golf courses and green belts.  The transition zone consists of residential areas, harbours, industrial and commercial areas.  A Biosphere reserve is a particular place which has been specifically recognised by the United National Educational, Scientific and Cultural organisation.  There are 651 Biosphere reserves in 120 different countries.  There are 3 zones of Biosphere reserves in Dublin.

The core zone consists of a protected ecosystem, and different landscapes.  The buffer zone is connected to the core zone, and it facilitates scientific research, it monitors training and encourages educational and environmental issues within the buffer zone.  The training zone sustains both social and economic developments in the area.

Politicians, Fáilte Ireland and local councils are enthusiastic about this news. Fáilte Ireland stated that Dublin will be hence known as the ‘City by the Sea’.  The Biosphere was expanded in 2015 to improve areas for the ecosystems.  This Biosphere in Dublin Bay covers over 300kms and inhabits 300,000 people.  The core zone of Dublin Bay biosphere includes the Tolka, the Baldoyle Estuaries, Booterstown Marsh, Howth Head, North Island and Ireland’s Eye.

The announcement was made by Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at an event at North Bull Wall on Wednesday 24th June.

Biosphere zoning mapYellow = Transition Zone   Brown = Buffer zone  Green = Core Zone 

The award corresponds with the public commencement of the new Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership which will look after and maintain the Bay. Dublin City Council, Dublin Port Company, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Fingal County Council, The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht have all been involved with this partnership.

During the event An Cathaoirleach of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Councillor Barry Saul said: ‘Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council is proud of the fact that some of the most significant parts of the county will be part of the Biosphere including the expanse of Merrion Strand, the man-made marsh at Booterstown as well as what we think is one of the gems of Dublin, Dalkey Island, one of the most unique, unspoiled and much loved heritage sites in the city.’

Minister Bruton also spoke at the event, saying: “This is a great boost for the people of Dublin. Dublin Bay is a hugely important asset for our city, a great amenity for the residents of Dublin as well as a significant draw for tourists. Properly protecting and developing the potential of the Bay can enhance the quality of life of people living in the city, as well as fostering jobs and economic growth throughout Dublin.”

The CEO of Fáilte Ireland Shaun Quinn said: “This UNESCO designation for the capital is a tremendous accolade proving that Dublin certainly is the capital with a captivating coast.

This recognition of Dublin Bay also dovetails with Fáilte Ireland’s work to reposition Dublin as the ‘City by the Sea’ – a must visit destination that rivals other European capitals and indeed, due to its proximity to sea and countryside, can offer more than most.”

The Biosphere Reserves have three key areas they want to improve:

To promote the protection of landscapes, habitats and wildlife

To encourage the understanding of nature through research and education.

To sustain an economy and society for people living and working in the area.


In all, it certainly is about time this wonderful part of the world is recognised for what it is!

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