Athlone to Mullingar Cycleway Habitat Survey

Client: Roughan & O’Donovan

Athlone to Mullingar railway line, photo by Jenni Roche

In 2013, BEC Consultants undertook a habitat survey of the route of a proposed cycleway. The route was adjacent to a disused railway line between Athlone and Mullingar in County Westmeath, a distance of approximately 40 km. Habitat mapping was carried out to provide data on the type, extent and location of habitats likely to be affected by the proposed development. Habitats were classified to Level 3 of Fossitt’s (2000) A Guide to Habitats in Ireland and recorded using handheld mappers with integrated GPS. Where they occurred, habitats listed under Annex I of the EU Habitats Directive were also mapped. Relevés were recorded within Annex I habitats, with vascular plants, bryophytes and lichens being identified. The conservation status of the habitat at each relevé was assessed using the criteria developed by BEC Consultants for the Irish Semi-natural Grasslands Survey and the National Conservation Assessments 2013.

Following fieldwork, the spatial habitat data were converted to polylines using ArcGIS and habitat maps were produced. A report was compiled presenting the habitat maps, habitat descriptions, relevé data, conservation assessment of Annex I habitats and recommendations for mitigation of potential impacts on habitats of conservation importance.