Northern Ireland priority species

Priority species require conservation action because of their decline, rarity and importance in an all-Ireland and UK context. It is intended that the priority species list will be subject to review on an annual basis.

The Northern Ireland Priority Species List is currently under review. All available data is collated and analysed using an agreed set criteria to shortlist species for consideration. Panels of notable experts and authorities are then being consulted for each taxonomic group to establish local, national and international trends, available data and deficiencies, Northern Ireland population strongholds and `endemic’ species and apply expert knowledge. Priority species are then selected that require conservation action as a priority due to the degree of their decline, rarity and importance in an all-Ireland and UK context. Due to the thorough nature of this review, and the time and dedication required from each of the reviewing panels, it is envisaged that the revised Priority Species lists will be made available in phases, with the first tranche being published Spring 2020. The second tranche in Autumn 2020, with potentially another phase of species groups processed in 2021 providing adequate data becomes available.

Priority species list

During the preparation of the Northern Ireland Biodiversity Strategy (2002) an initial list of 271 Northern Ireland Priority Species requiring conservation action was identified. A more comprehensive list of Northern Ireland Priority Species was later published in March 2004. These Priority Species lists formed the basis for selecting species requiring Northern Ireland Species Action Plans (SAPs).

UK Review

A review of the UK priority species started in 2005. This was a thorough and inclusive process which involved a large number of people and organisations and led to a large increase in Priority Species, from 557 to 1150. These proposals were agreed by the Governments of all four UK administrations in August 2007.

This led to a review of Northern Ireland Priority Species to include UK priority species occurring in Northern Ireland as well as threatened Irish species and species requiring conservation action. The current Northern Ireland priority species list stands at 481 species, an increase from 271 on the ‘original’ list.

Updating the list

Some groups have yet to be fully up-dated. In particular, those ‘grouped’ species from the 2004 list e.g. commercial marine fish and deep water fish species. Also, for some groups such as lichens, new information is being gathered but this is not fully available at the moment. For this reason CNCC and NIBG have agreed the facility to update the list as new information becomes available.

Back to top