Dublin Bay

Dublin Bay, a 10 km wide bay on the east coast of Ireland, is part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve extending over 300 km2. North Bull Island, a barrier island within Dublin Bay, was designated as a biosphere in 1981; the biosphere was later expanded in 2015 to encompass the entire bay and surrounding areas.

Today, the Dublin Bay biosphere comprises a 50 km2 core zone (areas of high natural value), 82 km2 buffer zone (public and private green spaces), 173 km2 inhabited transition zone, and is home to more than 300,000 people, approximately one-fifth of Dublin’s population. Moreover, most of the biosphere is under some form of EU or national designation, such as Special Protection Area, Special Area of Conservation, National Special Amenity Area or National Nature Reserve. Two sites within Dublin Bay, North Bull Island and Booterstown Marsh, and two nearby ‘satellite sites’ to the North of the Bay, where seagrass is more well established, are of particular relevance to the REWRITE project.


  • Climate change poses a significant threat to coastal ecosystems worldwide. Rising sea levels and increasing frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events may increase the inundation period or lead to increased coastal erosion in intertidal ecosystems, for example. In Dublin Bay, the effects of extreme weather are evidenced by the recent erosion of North Bull Island’s northern tip.
  • Increasing urbanisation and development can lead to destruction, fragmentation, and biodiversity loss in coastal ecosystems. In the case of Dublin Bay, the expansion of DART railway lines restricts the space for wetland restoration and, in the past, has led to coastal marshes being converted for urban land use.
  • Unmanaged tourism and recreational activities have led to habitat disturbance, soil erosion, and other environmental impacts in coastal regions, as became apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Pollution from sources such as industrial discharge, agricultural runoff, and urban wastewater can have detrimental effects on water quality and the health of coastal ecosystems. In Dublin Bay, effluent from an urban wastewater treatment plant is causing concerns around eutrophication, algal growth, and the spread of Spartina at the expense of a more biodiverse salt marsh community.
  • There are significant stakeholder conflicts surrounding the restoration and safeguarding of coastal habitats as rewilding projects in and around Dublin Bay. For example, private golf clubs situated atop the dunes on North Bull Island conflict with the naturally dynamic nature of the dunes and adjacent salt marsh and may impact the response of the barrier island to climate change.  
  • Involving local communities in conservation efforts and ensuring they understand the importance of preserving biodiversity is crucial. Community engagement and education are often essential for the success of conservation initiatives.

Main objectives

  1. 1

    Maintain nature through protection and effective management of conservation sites within Dublin Bay and adjacent estuaries, specifically North Bull Island and Booterstown Marsh.

  2. 2

    Reverse ecosystem decline within Dublin Bay by restoring important habitats and remediating damage caused by poor management practices in the past.

  3. 3

    Protect biodiversity during planning, construction, and maintenance of building projects and encourage net biodiversity gain by promoting innovation and cooperation in future projects, for example, the construction of the new wellness facility, spa and interpretative centre next to Booterstown Marsh.

  4. 4

    Promote an understanding of the importance of biodiversity within Dublin Bay through education and outreach, awareness-raising campaigns, and citizen science projects.

  5. 5
    Strengthen collaboration for biodiversity conservation within Dublin Bay by maintaining existing partnerships and fostering new ones

Key Opportunities

  • Carbon storage and sequestration.
  • Biodiversity restoration.
  • Regulation, for example, water quality improvement or flood and erosion risk management.
  • Recreation and birdwatching.

Current and future restoration actions

Contact Person

Main contact
Iris Moeller