Mountains and Uplands

Despite harsh mountain conditions of thin soils, strong winds, low temperatures and high rainfall, specialist plants and animals survive.

• Grey woolly fringe moss, and alpine club moss carpet the highest summits. 
• Appropriate levels of grazing encourage purple bell heather, ling and crowberry to thrive on the lower slopes. Too much grazing allows unpalatable mat grass to dominate. 
• Bright bog mosses mark natural springs and flushes. Here, sundews and butterworts trap insects to provide nitrogen and the keeled skimmer dragonfly breeds.
• Bouldery stream banks provide grazing refuges for rare plants such as juniper.
• Inaccessible cliff ledges provide safe nest sites for ravens and peregrine falcons. Roseroot, goldilocks and parsley fern cling to rare pockets of soil.
• Wheatears and the rare ring ouzel nest on scree slopes.
• Blanket bogs in valley bottoms are marked by bright green bog mosses and reddish cotton grass with cross-leaved heath, yellow asphodel and pink lousewort.
• Quillwort and water hyacinth grow in mountain lakes.  

A native species occurring on well-lit, well-drained soils. In the north of its range the species favours cold sites with high rainfall on acid soils such as moorland, oceanic maritime heaths and rocky slopes. Mourne juniper has been proven to be a  unique form of the shrub and has survived only in the least accessible parts of the mountains. The Mourne Heritage Trust has commenced a programme of propagation to provide additional juniper for replanting the uplands. 

The haunting calls of this magnificent glossy black bird were once only heard in the mountains, where this largest member of the crow family nested on isolated rock ledges at the end of winter. Primarily a carrion eater, it benefited when the mountains were heavily sheep grazed, and has now spread out into lowland areas where it is just as happy nesting in trees. Nevertheless its acrobatic flights and deep calls more typically belong to the mountain landscapes.

Biodiversity Biodiversity Map Some of the most accessible areas designated for the quality of their biodiversity include:
  1. Carlingford Lough - Ramsar, SPA, ASSI
  2. Castlewellan Lake - ASSI
  3. Eastern Mournes - SAC, ASSI
  4. Murlough dunes - SAC, ASSI, NNR
  5. Rostrevor Wood - SAC, ASSI, NNR
  6. Slieve Croob - SLNCI
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