The area is of special scientific interest because of the complex pattern of heath and associated habitats, which form a mosaic of vegetation within a varied topography of plateaux and valleys.
The plateaux contain a dry dwarf-heath community on shallow peat soils and are dominated by heather, bell heather and Western gorse. This distinctive type of heath is restricted in its distribution within the British Isles and Rathlin is the most northerly site known for it. Surface depressions have impeded drainage and are covered by a mixture of wet heath, where cross-leaved heath is prominent, and acid grassland with species such as mat Grass and purple moor grass.
Many of the slopes are flushed by mineral rich waters and are dominated by sedges like carnation sedge, common sedge, common yellow sedge and black bog-rush. The troughs and valley bottoms contain a range of wetland communities with a large number of wetland species, including bogbean, bog pondweed, bottle sedge and marsh cinquefoil.
- ASSI Guidance for Public Bodies/Competent Authorities
- Coastal Areas of Special Scientific Interest
- Management of Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)
- Marine Conservation Zones
- Marine Natura 2000 network (Marine N2K) - Marine SACs and SPAs
- Marine Protected Areas
- Marine Ramsar Sites
- Portrush Coastal Zone
- Special Areas of Conservation
- Special Areas of Conservation for Harbour porpoise
- Special Protection Areas