The KerryLIFE Project Area
The KerryLIFE Project area is located on the Iveragh Peninsula, County Kerry in southwest Ireland. The project area comprises two large rivers, the Blackwater and the Caragh, separated by the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks Mountains. The project area covers 22,150 ha or 221 km2. The primary land use in the area is agriculture, accounting for approximately 78% of the land area.
The geography of the project area is very varied and is one of the most visually stunning in Ireland, ranging from lowland river valleys with ancient native woodland to some of the highest mountain ranges in Ireland. The geology of the project area primarily Devonian Old Red Sandstone dominated by peaty soils including blanket peat, peaty gleys and peaty podzols and out-cropping rock, with some pockets of mineral alluvium in the valleys. Altitudes range from near sea-level at the bottom of the Blackwater catchment to over 900 m on the western slope of Caher mountain on the edge of the Macgillycuddys reeks.
The KerryLIFE project area has a pronounced oceanic climate with high rainfall (up to 3,600 mm per year at higher altitudes), high humidity, cool summers and mild winters. Rainfall is distributed fairly evenly over the year, with between 200 and 250 wet days (>1 mm rainfall) each year. River discharge shows a rapid response to rainfall in the catchment, as a result of the steep slopes and generally impermeable nature of the peaty top soils. Flash floods occur at frequent intervals throughout the year.