Northern Ireland Environment Agency

Northern Ireland Environment Agency's aim is to protect, conserve and promote the natural environment and built heritage of Northern Ireland for the benefit of present and future generations.

Objective 3 (Theme 2)

Demonstrate relevance to sustainable development

  • Shared Horizons’ - Statement of Policy on Protected Landscapes in Northern Ireland
    The statement sets out the issues associated with the protection and sustainable use of Northern Ireland’s protected landscapes (and geological features/landforms) and indicates the way in which the Environment Agency plans to address them.

  • Landscape Character Area descriptions
    Each of the 130 defined Landscape Character Areas in Northern Ireland, which inform environmental and planning decision-making, include a comprehensive geodiversity profile, as well as biodiversity profile and landscape profile. The Geodiversity Profile includes detailed information on the area’s: outline geomorphology and landscape setting; solid and quaternary geology; stratigraphic table; and key sites.

Objective 5 (Theme 3)

Establish audit

  • Site assessment and designation
    Earth Science Conservation Review; the equivalent to the GCR used in Britain. The ESCR is a programme through which geological and geomorphological sites in Northern Ireland are currently being systematically defined to determine their national significance and importance to earth science conservation. ESCR ultimately identifies sites eligible for formal designation as Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI), equivalent to Britain’s SSSIs, which will afford them statutory protection. Currently, over 350 sites have been selected for ESCR and it is anticipated that all sites identified by the ESCR will be designated as ASSIs . All the information gathered about each site is being documented and mapped to a fixed format that enables straightforward comparison between different sites. The results of the ESCR can be accessed at the ‘Geological sites of Northern Ireland’ website - each site has information about access, site photographs, and a detailed description of the geological features of interest including the rocks, minerals, fossils and structures, as appropriate.

Objective 6 (Theme 4)

Conserve through sites and areas

  • Site assessment and designation
    Earth Science Conservation Review; the equivalent to the GCR used in Britain. The ESCR is a programme through which geological and geomorphological sites in Northern Ireland are currently being systematically defined to determine their national significance and importance to earth science conservation. ESCR ultimately identifies sites eligible for formal designation as Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI), equivalent to Britain’s SSSIs, which will afford them statutory protection. Currently, over 350 sites have been selected for ESCR and it is anticipated that all sites identified by the ESCR will be designated as ASSIs . All the information gathered about each site is being documented and mapped to a fixed format that enables straightforward comparison between different sites. The results of the ESCR can be accessed at the ‘Geological sites of Northern Ireland’ website - each site has information about access, site photographs, and a detailed description of the geological features of interest including the rocks, minerals, fossils and structures, as appropriate.

Objective 7 (Theme 4)

Maintain and enhance through management

  • Site protection and conservation
    NIEA is a lead agency with responsibilities for meeting conservation targets of Northern Ireland’s earth science Habitat Action Plans (i.e. for Limestone Pavements, Littoral & Sublittoral Chalk, Lowland Raised Bogs etc).

Objective 9 (Theme 5)

Make relevant to the wider world

  • Guided Walks
    The NIEA and National Trust have arranged public excursions, led by experts, to highlight the geodiversity of Northern Ireland, at properties owned or managed by the organisations. Sites include the Giant’s Causeway, various quarries and Bloody Bridge, Mourne Coast Path.

Objective 13 (Theme 6)

Increase financial support

  • Natural Heritage Grant Programme
    The grant programme provides funding support for projects carried out by voluntary bodies, councils and schools in Northern Ireland which encourage the conservation and enhancement of key elements of the environment and its wildlife, and the provision of facilities which help as wide a range of people as possible to enjoy and appreciate NI’s natural heritage. Funding is provided to projects with a focus on biodiversity and geodiversity; tomorrow’s landscapes; and countryside access, and which contribute to site action; awareness, inspiration and involving people; or planning for the future.

Objective 14 (Theme 6)

Encourage working together

  • Site protection and conservation
    A management group was set up to oversee the implementation of the Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast World Heritage Site Management Plan. The Group comprises representatives of the following bodies: Northern Ireland Environment Agency; National Trust; Moyle District Council; Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment; Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust; Northern Ireland Tourist Board; Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside; Geological Survey of Northern Ireland; and Causeway Coast and Glens Ltd. The Plan’s first key principle is to ‘sustain and conserve the outstanding universal value of the site’s geology and landscape for future generations’ by meeting management objectives 6 and 7 which are to ‘accept the management consequences of a dynamic site’ and to ‘support geological research programmes and projects’.