These are prime wildlife conservation areas in the country, considered to be important on a European as well as Irish level. Most Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are in the countryside, although a few sites reach into town or city landscapes, such as Dublin Bay and Cork Harbour. Detailed conservation objectives are available for some SACs and as additional ones are approved they will be posted on the NPWS website (www.npws.ie).
The legal basis on which SACs are selected and designated is the EU Habitats Directive, transposed into Irish law in the as amended in 1998 and 2005. The Directive lists certain habitats and species that must be protected within SACs This is a national dataset and is split into two separate file download: SACs within the bounds of the ITM coordinate reference system and off-shore SACs which are provided in WGS 84.