The importance of the Mourne AONBs habitats and the resulting biodiversity is indicated by the presence of multiple national and international conservation designations.
A particular jewel is Carlingford Lough, which supports significant numbers of sandwich terns. Its mud flats support light-bellied brent geese and large numbers of waders such as oystercatcher and ringed plover. For this reason it is designated as an international Ramsar Site and European Special Protection Area for birds.
Inland, the high Mournes are important for their purple heather and the other species that make up one of Europe’s finest tracts of upland heath. Murlough’s dune grassland and lowland heaths support one of the largest populations of marsh fritillary butterfly in Northern Ireland. While Rostrevor’s ancient oak wood nurtures a rich and diverse understorey of hazel, holly and ground flora including toothwort and bird’s nest orchid. These sites are European Special Areas of Conservation. Rostrevor Wood and Murlough are also designated as National Nature Reserves.
For more information on Murlough NNR – https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/northern-ireland/murlough-national-nature-reserve
The scrubland of Ballybannon Fen supports a variety of sedges, rushes and mosses, as well as common butterwort. The nutrient poor waters of Castlewellan Lake encourage the rare quillwort and, in the shallows, shoreweed grows. Otter footprints can also be found. These are Areas of Special Scientific Interest, designated by the United Kingdom.
The Shimna and Trassey rivers and the Slieve Croob Massif are protected under local planning regulations as Sites of Local Nature Conservation Importance. Other sites are also being considered for designation as Local Nature Reserves.
All Mourne habitats and wildlife are special, so please explore and enjoy responsibly.
To view all of the protected areas in Co Down – https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/protected-areas/county/dn