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You are in Natural Heritage: Biodiversity in Mourne
What is Biodiversity and why is it important?
Biodiversity is literally the diversity of life on earth. It embraces all living plants and animals and the ecosystems on which they depend. It is found all around us, in gardens, parks, roadside verges, fields, mountains, rivers and in the sea.
Why protect Biodiversity?
Natural processes protect the planet we live on, which is why it is important to conserve its biodiversity.The plants and animals we live among feed and clothe us and provide medicine. They also enhance our quality of life and we have a responsibility to look after other species.
Biodiversity in MourneThe impressive scenery of the Mourne owes much of its appeal to the diversity of semi-natural habitats combined with land that are activity farmed or forested.
Extending from mountains to seacoast, the AONB contains a rich variety of habitats, including heather, moor, bog and upland pastures, through freshwater and woodland to lowland health and coastal areas, each supporting a wide range of plants and animals.
The uplands of the Mourne area contain one of the best-developed areas of heath land in Europe. All of these are proposed as NI priority habitats the strategy. These habitats hold several proposed NI priority species including red grouse, keeled skimmer, jumpier, Irish ladies tresses orchid and the moss camplopus setifolius. Sheep grazing is the main farming activity on the upland grasses and heaths and over-grazing by sheep presents a major threat to these habitats and species. On the upland margins, agricultural reclamation has resulted in significant losses of lowland heath.
The lowlands and upland margins in the area contain some important oak woodlands, river, and fens. Priority species occurring there include the red squirrel which is being replaced by the introduced Grey squirrel elsewhere.
The Mourne coast includes a mixture of hand and soft cliffs and inter-tidal and sub-tidal sediments. The salt marsh at Mill Bay in Carling ford Lough is the largest example of this habitat in Northern Ireland.
The area is also rich in marine life. Inter-tidal reefs at Glassdrumman represent the best Northern Ireland example of this UK priority habitat. Carling ford Lough has an exceptional range of inter-tidal and sub-tidal habitats found on rocks and a range of sediment types including marine communities and species found elsewhere in Northern Ireland. In addition, the islands in the Lough are internationally important for breeding terns including the rare Roseate Tern and wintering waterfowl such as the Light-Bellied Brent Goose. http://www.ehsni.gov.uk/natural/countrycountry_landscape.shtml
A range of impacts resulting from coastal development, recreation activity and sea defences can affect coastal and marine habitats.
The biodiversity of the area contributes to the quality of life of the people who live and work in Mourne and Slieve Croob A.O.N.B. and is a significant element in the local tourism and recreation industries.Changes and threats to Biodiversity in Mourne?
Biodiversity in Mourne is in danger of being damaged or even destroyed. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, the area is under pressure to meet the enormous growth in recreational use. This causes problems of erosion of vegetation and disturbance to wildlife. There is continual pressure of development in Mourne, linked to the growth in tourism and the need for more housing.
Agricultural pressure is also a problem: to earn a decent living farmers are keeping more livestock and producing more crop, which is brought about by extensive use of artificial fertilisers, pesticides and draining land. All of these practices are damaging to wildlife.
Many more common species and habitats are relatively widespread in the countryside and can be protected by planning controls, environmental education and financial incentives for farmers to look after their land in an environmentally friendly way. The areas that are particularly important for nature conservation may be protected by statutory designation.