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The Burren - Flora and Fauna

The Burren in County Clare is home to 1,100 species of plants out of the 1,400 in Ireland as a whole. It is the only place in Europe where Mediterranean and Arctic Alpine plants grow together in perfect harmony. Rare flowers include Lady’s Tresses (Spiranthes spiralis), Bee Orchids (Ophrys apifera), Fly Orchids (Ophrys muscifera), Irish Orchids (Neotinia maculate), Pyramidal Orchids (Anacamptis pyramidalis), Lesser Butterfly Orchids (Platanthera bifolia) and Fragrant Orchids (Gymnadenia conopsia).

In terms of fauna, feral goats, foxes and hares are the most common mammals encountered when walking in the Burren. A number of more rare and elusive species such as the carnivorous pine martin, the snake-like slow worm, and the rare lesser horseshoe bat are also found there, as well as over 100 breeding birds and almost all of Ireland's native butterfly species.

That so many fascinating species are found at the Burren is due to a happy coincidence of natural and cultural factors. As well as the unique growing environment provided by the thick limestone and thins soil, low impact traditional farming practices such as the ancient practice of winter grazing contribute to the presence of this rich flora.

Most of the Burren has been designated as a Special Area of Conservation, a title reserved for the very best natural environments in Europe. Visitors should treat this special place with the respect that it deserves and needs, don't pick or trample flowers, don't disturb the wildlife and enjoy their visit.

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