This resource was developed by Birdwatch Ireland and Galway City Council, to showcase the wealth of biodiversity and green spaces in our city, as part of Galway’s European Green Leaf designation 2017.
There are four routes – each with their own downloadable information sheet, showing route difficultly, distance, and background information. Each route covers a variety of species, places of interest, natural features you can see in that area.
You can find lots of images and videos of wildlife on the routes online, but the best way to experience Galway is on foot!
Galway City is located at the mouth of the River Corrib and lies at the junction between the blanket bogs of Connemara to the west and the low-lying farmland of east Galway. Despite the rapid rate of urbanisation within the city in the last twenty years, there is a significant extent and diversity of natural habitats and wildlife within the city boundaries.
The Galway City Habitat Inventory identified fifty eight different wildlife habitats within the city boundaries, which is a huge range when compared with other urban areas of comparable size. Twenty two of the habitats identified are considered to be nationally or internationally rare and are of high ecological or biodiversity value.
The distribution and diversity of habitats in the city reflects to a large extent the underlying geology and soils, as well as climate and land-use history. In the west of the city there is acid peat-land and heath, which overlies granite rocks. The northern and eastern parts of the city are underlain by limestone which outcrops in places. The water bodies and wetlands associated with the Corrib system dominate the centre and northern fringe of the city.
Several areas of woodland occur in the city, as well as patches of scrub and there are extensive networks of hedgerows and stone walls within the city’s agricultural zone. The coastal zone of Galway City consists of a diverse range of habitats including sea cliffs, salt marsh, shingle banks, and sandy, muddy and rocky shores.
Biodiversity or biological diversity refers to the variety of all living things on earth - including people, plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms. Biodiversity is critical to ‘ecosystem services’ that contribute to our planet’s wellbeing - and human wellbeing. Eco system services are the benefits that humans gain from the natural environment and from properly-functioning ecosystems e.g. pollination, clean air, fertile soil, flood control. Decisions humans make can impact on biodiversity, and affect the animals, birds, wildlife, soil health, air quality and the wellbeing of species and themselves.
The European Green Leaf designation is a sister initiative of the European Green Capital award. In 2016, Galway City was awarded the designation of European Green Leaf 2017, by the European Commission. The European Green Leaf designation is awarded to cities that demonstrate well-established records of high environmental standards and a commitment to setting ambitious goals for future environmental progress, underpinned by the practical application of sustainable development. Galway is the first Irish city to be awarded the European Green Leaf.
A storymap is an interactive map with narrative text, images and multimedia content. Storymaps are a simple, but powerful, tool to inform and engage and to disseminate spatial specific information.