Wildlife is protected in nature reserves. They cover a range of habitats including coastal areas, dunes, cliffs, moors, meadows and woodlands:
National and other statutory nature reserves
National Nature Reserves and other statutory nature reserves are areas of prime importance for flora, fauna or features of geological or other special interest. They are managed for conservation and to provide special opportunities for study or research.
For a list of nature reserves and details of each, visit the following page:
Local nature reserves
Local Nature Reserves 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 Reserves.
Ulster Wildlife nature reserves
Ulster Wildlife looks after 18 nature reserves across Northern Ireland. The reserves help conserve wildlife and allow people to share in their beauty.
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) nature reserves
The 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, visit:
Explore the countryside at one of Northern Ireland’s country parks. With woodland and mountain walks, cycle trails, fabulous beaches and excellent visitor centres - it won't be a dull day out:
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.
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. However, most are in private ownership. When an area is designated as an ASSI, a right of public access is not granted.
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Northern Ireland is famous for the quality and diversity of its landscape. Areas of outstanding quality are designated to make sure they are managed to help protect the landscape and to provide for public access and enjoyment. Northern Ireland does not have any National Parks.
UNESCO designated sites
Northern Ireland has two UNESCO designated sites - The Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast World Heritage Site, and the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark.
- Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast World Heritage Site
- Giant's Causeway National Nature Reserve
- Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark
Report wildlife sightings online
In Northern Ireland, the Centre for Environmental Data and Recording (CEDaR) collates wildlife records for both native and non-native species.
You can record your sightings on its website either as a single record event or you can register with them and send in details through a free online account.