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Protected areas

Our protected areas represent the very best of our natural landscapes, biodiversity and geodiversity, forming the cornerstone of nature conservation by supporting plants, animals and habitats that are rare or unique. The on-going protection and management of this coherent network of sites will ensure that these important natural and cultural assets can be enjoyed by this and future generations.

We have a range of protected area designations, representing features of national and international importance, both terrestrial and marine.

You can search for protected areas within Northern Ireland by following the links below where you will find associated guidance and literature.

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Searching protected areas

Search for SACs, ASSIS and other protected areas within Northern Ireland. 

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs)

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). 

Special Protection Areas (SPAs)

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are designated under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995 (as amended). 

You can also view all of the sites on the Natural Environment Map Viewer or download Geographic Information System (GIS) data on the digital datasets page, or Marine Map Viewer


Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs)

ASSIs are protected areas that represent the best of our wildlife and geological sites that make a considerable contribution to the conservation of our most valuable natural places. 

Marine Protected Areas

DAERA and other UK administrations work together to deliver and manage site-based conservation designations, establishing an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

Ramsar sites

A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated of international importance under Convention on Wetlands, known as the Ramsar Convention.

Further information on protected areas can be found by accessing the links below and any queries relating to protected areas should be directed to Any queries relating to Marine Protected Areas (MPA's) should be directed to DAERA Marine and Fisheries Division


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