Lecale Fens

Lecale Fens are privately owned and are not open to public access

Four alkaline fens make up the Lecale Fens SAC. Located in Co. Down, Northern Ireland, these fens are calcium rich and host a number of plants which are considered rare in the UK and Ireland. Lecale Fens are characteristic of undisturbed wetlands and include areas of very rare mire vegetation.

This SAC has some very notable insects residing here, including the much endangered Marsh fritillary butterfly was once a widespread sight but has seen a large drop in numbers all across Europe and as such is in need of urgent conservation action. Reasons for this decline include the loss of suitable habitats, habitat fragmentation and unsuitable land management.

The Desmoulin’s whorl snail was discovered here in Summer 2018, the first time this species has ever been found and recorded in Northern Ireland. A team of specialists were working on site carrying out surveys as part of the CANN project when they made the discovery of the tiny snail in high numbers. This find is especially notable given the size of the snail, which are typically smaller than a baby’s fingernail.



Lecale Fens

CANN Works

Over the lifespan of the project, the CANN team will be working on producing a Conservation Action Plan for Lecale Fens SAC. As part of producing this plan detailed surveys are underway to better understand the very complex hydrology of the site. On the ground conservation actions to be completed include the management of invasive species, fencing to manage access, and measures to protect both the Marsh fritillary and Desmoulin’s whorl snail.


The Desmoulin’s whorl snail (Vertigo moulinsiana) has been in decline in recent years, caused by wetland drainage and changes in land management practices, and whilst they can be found in a number of European countries including the UK and Ireland, they are not common. The Desmoulin’s whorl snail is one of 11 types of whorl snail found in the UK and Ireland, and whilst the largest of the Vertigo species the Desmoulin’s whorl snail is typically less than 3mm in size making these molluscs smaller than a new-born baby’s fingernail. It is such a significant species that its presence has previously halted infrastructure construction in both the UK and Ireland.
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