Getting the Lough Neagh Wetlands (LNW) ecosystem stable and returning it to good ecological status is of the utmost importance for the landscapes future preservation. The LNW has a rich biodiversity. This is highlighted by an abundance of 27 N.Ireland priority habitats that provide a refuge to 49 N.Ireland priority species, some of which not only have regional but worldwide significance in relation to their existence.
The territory holds regional, national and international prestige due to its rich and unique biodiversity and is highly coveted in nature conservation designations including Ramsar Site, Special Protection Area (SPA) and Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI). Its designations relate mainly to its wintering wildfowl that migrate annually to its shores from places as far away as Canada, Iceland, Green-land and the Russian Arctic to spend winter. These are outlined in more detail below:
- Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI)
- ASSIs in the LNW include Lough Neagh, Lough Beg, Portmore Lough, Culnafay, Toome, Peatlands Park and Montiaghs Moss. These locations were recognised as Area of Scientific Interest in 1965 and re-designated as ASSI in 1992.
- Special Protection Area (SPA)
- Lough Neagh, Lough Beg and Portmore Lough are all part of an SPA.
- Lough Neagh Ramsar Site
- Neagh Ramsar Was the world’s 74th and formally recognised from the 5th January 1976. The is an area overlapping but some-what larger than the Lough Neagh, Lough Beg and Portmore Lough ASSI/SPA.
The ultimate key to conserving protecting and enhancing the wetland biodiversity is the building of local awareness, capacity and partnerships. The LNP encourages public stewardship of the rich and diverse range of species and habitats that surround the lough. The strength of the statutory, private, community and stakeholder partnership approach to implementing biodiversity projects cannot be underestimated. Local communities, farmers, local wildfowling clubs and interest groups with their expertise and extensive local knowledge can bring long term, practical commitment to biodiversity action. The Lough Neagh Wetlands is a place of immense ecological value that can not only be enjoyed but enhanced by everyone.