Special Areas of Conservation

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are those which have been given greater protection under The Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations 1995 (Northern Ireland) (as amended). They have been designated because of a possible threat to the special habitats or species which they contain and to provide increased protection to a variety of animals, plants and habitats of importance to biodiversity both on a national and international scale.

Image of Rathlin - special area of conservation (SAC)
You can find details on Specific Special Areas of Conservation (SAC’s) with associated guidance, literature and maps at the following link:

For further information you can visit the website for the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). The JNCC is a public body that advises the UK Government and devolved administrations on UK-wide and international nature conservation. The purpose of the JNCC is to maintain and enrich biodiversity and conserve geological features. It also sustains the natural systems that provide the core services we all depend on like food, fresh water and clean air.

In line with our obligations under The Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations 1995 (Northern Ireland) (as amended) to put measures in place to maintain and, where needed, improve the ecological health of our SACs (58 in total), in 2017 NIEA embarked on a 4 year work programme which will see the development of a series of Conservation Management Plans.

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