Wildlife reserves and protected landscapes
There is a world of wildlife and natural beauty to be discovered in Northern Ireland. If you want to find nature at its most beautiful you have a wealth of choice including Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, local and national nature reserves and country parks.
Wildlife is protected in nature reserves. They cover a range of habitats including coastal areas, dunes, cliffs, moors, meadows and woodlands.
National Nature Reserves
A National Nature Reserve, (NNR) is as an area of prime importance for flora, fauna or features of geological or other special interest. National nature reserves are managed for conservation and to provide special opportunities for study or research.
Local Nature Reserves
Local Nature Reserves (LNR) are areas set aside for biodiversity and where people can enjoy wildlife. They are an impressive natural resource, making an important contribution to biodiversity. Local councils have the power to designate land as a Local Nature Reserve so check if you have any LNRs in your area.
Wildlife Trust nature reserves
The Ulster Wildlife Trust looks after 20 nature reserves across Northern Ireland. The reserves help conserve wildlife and allow people to share in their beauty.
RSPB nature reserves
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) also manages several nature reserves. These are ideal for bird watchers and nature lovers. Some provide a wide range of facilities suitable for family days out, while others have only minimal services on offer. To find out more about RSPB nature reserves, visit the RSPB website.
The National Trust
The National Trust is the largest private landowner in Northern Ireland. The charity manages around 12,000 hectares (46 square miles) of countryside and 200 kilometres of local coastline. To find out more, visit the National Trust website.
Areas of Special Scientific Interest
Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) include some of the most spectacular and beautiful habitats, including large wetlands teeming with birds, wildflower meadows, shingle beaches, remote uplands, moorland and peat bogs.
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Northern Ireland has a great variety of scenic countryside. Large areas of landscape of distinctive character and special scenic value have been designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). Currently there is no national park.
AONB designation is designed to protect and enhance the qualities of each area and to promote their enjoyment by the public.
Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast World Heritage Site
The Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast site is Northern Ireland’s only world heritage site and is home to a wealth of local history and legend. The site is managed by the National Trust.