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Kerry Biosphere Reserve, Republic of Ireland

Located just south-west of the city of Killarney in south-west Ireland, Kerry biosphere reserve (former Killarney) comprises the mountains and woodlands surrounding Lough Leane Lake and adjacent smaller lakes, moorlands, parks and gardens.

Designation date: 1982


Regional network:  EuroMAB

Ecosystem-based network: 




    Surface : 65,000 ha

    • Core area(s): 10,260 ha
    • Buffer zone(s): 531 ha
    • Transition zone(s): 54,210 ha

    Location: N/A

    Administrative Authorities

    Killarney National Park
    Muckross, Killarney
    County Kerry

    Tel.: +353 (64) 314 40

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    Ecological Characteristics

    Much of the natural woodland has been cleared but the remaining fragments include the most extensive areas in the country. Due to differing geology in the biosphere reserve, three main woodland types can be distinguished: woods of sessile oak (Quercus petraea) with holly (Ilex aquifolium) in the understorey on sandstone; a yew (Taxus baccata) wood growing on almost bare limestone; and carr forest dominated by Alnus glutinosa in places along the north-east shore of Lough Leane and in other poorly-drained areas.

    Present human impacts on and uses of the area include conifer afforestations, lake eutrophication and tourism activities. Additional human influence is the past introductions of alien species that have impacted on the natural ecosystems of Killarney. The most notable of these introduced species are Rhododendron ponticum and sika deer which overgraze the woodland floor and pose a potential threat to the genetic integrity of the native red deer. 



    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    Human history has also left its mark in the biosphere reserve, e.g. with the well preserved remains of Inisfallen Abbey on an island in Lough Leane, Muckross Abbey, or the Muckross House which serves as a visitor center today. This Killarney National Park Education Centre fulfills an important educational role within the national park and biosphere reserve, which is one of the best-known tourist destinations in Ireland.





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    Last updated: March 2019