Northern Ireland Priority Species

The Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 places a duty on DAERA to publish a list of the species of flora and fauna and types of habitats which in the Department’s opinion are of principal importance for the purpose of conserving biodiversity.

The Department must also keep these lists under review. Northern Ireland public bodies must take these habitats and species into consideration and further their conservation as far as is reasonably practicable as part of their biodiversity duty under the WANE Act.

Priority species require conservation action because of their decline, rarity and importance in an all-Ireland and UK context.

This list guides local government and public bodies to meet their Biodiversity Duty through policy, strategies and decision making. The list supports landowners and funded bodies to deliver conservation actions to promote nature recovery.

This list provides the basis for the emerging biodiversity targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the associated targets in the Climate Change Act, and developing Environment and Biodiversity strategies. It also forms the basis for selecting species requiring Northern Ireland Species Action Plans (SAPs).

Northern Colletes (Colletes floralis)

Due to the complex nature of available data, species group expertise and published works of evidence, each species group is being scrutinised individually to assess declines, risks and threats. Resulting in a staggered approach to this review, which is being handled in tranches.The first tranche was published in February 2023, has a total number of listed species standing at 592.

Tranche 1 Tranche 2 Tranche 3 (to be confirmed)
Ant Beetles Diptera (other families)
Bees Butterflies Fungi (other families)
Birds Crustaceans Lichens
Bryozoa Dragonflies Stoneworts
Caddisflies Fungi (Ascomyce)  
Cnidaria Ladybirds  
Crustaceans Micro-Moths  
Echinoderms Mosses and Liverworts  
Elasmobranchs Non-Marine Molluscs  
Fish Sawflies  
Hemichordata Soldierflies and Allies  
Macro-Moths Spiders  
Segmented Worms    
True bugs    
Vascular Plants    

Species named on the original list, but not falling within a reviewed species group will remain on the list.

Nomenclature used follows UK Species Inventory classification, Taxon Version Keys can be universally applied to dictionaries in the National Biodiversity Network such as the NBN Atlas, iRecord, iSpot and national recording schemes.  

Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)

View the Northern Ireland Priority Species list

The completed reviewed species lists have been endorsed by the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside (CNCC), the Department’s statutory advisory body on nature conservation.

Species lists will be subject to periodic assessment, and annual evaluation allowing species with known immediate threats to be added.


For further information on individual species:- 

Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia)


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