Nature Reserves in County Down

There are many nature reserves on Forest Service land in County Down

Belvoir Park (FNR)

The reserve forms part of Belvoir Park Forest which lies within the Belfast urban area and is heavily used by the public for recreation. It comprises mixed woodland and scrub with many of the common tree species and there are a number of exotics, relics of the old estate.

The Forest Service Education Centre provides guided tours of the forest. The RSPB Regional Office is also located at Belvoir Park.

Map reference: J342698, 3 miles S of Belfast
Hectares: 15.4
Mixed woodland and scrub and song birds.
Access from car park

Bohill (NNR)

The woodland in the reserve consists of secondary regrowth with abundant holly following clearfelling and coppicing many years ago. There are several clearings some with bracken predominant and others with heather.


The reserve provides optimum conditions for the Holly Blue butterfly which is scarce in Northern Ireland.

Map reference: J396459, 4 miles SE of Ballynahinch
Hectares: 2.8
Access from public road to eastApril-June

Cairn Wood

Cairn Wood (FNR)

Rising to an altitude of 200 metres, the woodland was once an outlier of the Clandeboye estate and is important locally not only for its conservation value but also as a landscape feature in North Down.

The tree cover in the reserve is mainly beech, some oak, alder and birch, many of which are of scrub character. A few conifers occur, mostly Scots pine. Open areas are predominantly grass/rush complex with bramble and at the highest elevations Vaccinium heath comes in.

There is a wide range of small song birds and many of the more common raptors frequent the area.

Map reference: J455775, 3 miles SE of Holywood
Hectares: 40
Old semi-natural woodland and scrub
Access on foot via forest road from public car park to the north
All year

Hollymount (NNR)

The reserve is a fine example of alder and willow carr.

There are a wide variety of sedges, perhaps the most spectacular being the extensive bed of tussock sedge, Carex paniculata; the pond sedge C. riparia is also common. The wide stagnant ditches in the reserve contain the water violet, Hottonia palustris which is very rare in Ireland.

Map reference: J466399, 1 mile W of Downpatrick
Hectares: 12.5
Alder carr and fen
Restricted access October-January; via forest road from public road west

Rostrevor Oakwood (NNR)

The wood is at least 250 years old and may include remnants of primeval forest. Mature oakwoods on underlaying Silurian rocks are rare in Northern Ireland.

Map reference: J186175, 1 mile SE of Rostrevor
Hectares: 20
Mature oakwood
Access by forest road from car park
Spring and summer

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