The Mourne AONB is designated for the qualities of its landscape.
The Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is designated for its exceptional landscape qualities. This diverse terrain features a remarkable variety of natural and semi-natural habitats, forming a picturesque mosaic of heather, moor, bog, and pasture. The region is adorned with freshwater bodies and woodlands, while coastal areas showcase sandy and rocky shores, mudflats, and salt marshes.
Unsurprisingly, the significance of upland habitats, including upland and montane heath, as well as blanket bog, cannot be overstated. In the lowland countryside, agriculture prevails, complemented by crucial semi-natural habitats like hedgerows, lowland heath, dry acid grassland, and meadows. While woodlands make up approximately one-fifth of the Mourne AONB, with over half being coniferous, there are also pockets of broadleaved woodlands. The area is intersected by more than 340 km of rivers and streams, serving various purposes from feeding major reservoirs to sustaining Otter populations and offering ideal spawning grounds for Salmon and Trout. Wetlands, encompassing marshes and fens, provide an ideal habitat for dragonflies and damselflies.
Then there’s the enchanting Mourne coast, kissed by the warm waters of the southern Irish Sea. Serving as a crucial nursery area for young fish, its saltmarsh and mudflats are also havens for a multitude of wintering waders. Just off the coast, cold northern waters meet warmer southern ones, resulting in a mix of species—from tiny phytoplankton to grazing animals. The marine life includes mammals like Common and Grey Seals, along with Dolphins and Harbour Porpoises. Sea birds, including the Common and Sandwich Tern, grace the open sea as their feeding ground.