Cam Lough ASSI

Protected area type: Areas of Special Scientific Interest
Feature type: 
  • Habitat
  • Armagh
Council: Newry, Mourne and Down
Guidance and literature: Cam Lough ASSI

Cam Lough is a mid-altitude lake that lies in a steep sided valley between Slieve Gullion and Sturgan Mountain to the west and Camlough Mountain to the east.

Cam Lough is a special place because of its aquatic flora and fauna which are dependent on unpolluted water and low levels of plant nutrients. The diverse substrate of the lake, which ranges from boulder and rock to gravel with sand predominating in deeper water provides a variety of niches for a wide range of plants and animals. This type of lake is fast becoming rare in the Northern Ireland countryside due to pollution.

A variety of floating plants form rafts on the surface, these include unbranched bur-reed, amphibious bistort and a number of pondweeds. On the shore and in the shallows shoreweed is abundant with quillwort present as a rare associate. Growing in amongst these submerged lawns are stoneworts and the moss Fintinalis antipyretica. Also included within the macrophyte community are a number of notable and rare plants such as; eight-stamened waterwort and six-stamened waterwort, red pondweed and lesser pondweed. The stands of emergent vegetation form a swamp community and are composed mainly of common spike-rush and reed canary-grass. Where the shore is sheltered significant areas of fen have developed.

Around Cam Lough are habitats such as wet woodland and marshy grassland. Typical trees of the woodland areas are willow and downy birch. A wide range of birds and invertebrates are also found at Cam Lough.

All of the plant communities that make Cam Lough such a special place depend on the ASSI being kept in good condition. We therefore need to protect it from certain activities, which have been identified as potentially damaging to the site. The Northern Ireland Environment Agency is keen to work closely with all landowners occupiers to maintain and enhance Cam Lough ASSI, one of the best lakes in Armagh. 

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