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Wildlife reserves and protected landscapes

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, local and national nature reserves and country parks protect wildlife and the natural environment. When visiting these areas, you need to respect the landscape and wildlife which survives there.

Nature reserves

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 name 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). In Northern Ireland 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 area is Northern Ireland’s only World Heritage Site. History and legend are linked to the Giant's Causeway. The site is managed by the National Trust.

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