Woodlands and Scrub

Woodland covers about 6% of Mourne. Half of this is conifer plantation but small patches of native broadleaved woodland are often found in river valleys. 

• Rostrevor oak wood is the largest and oldest native wood in Mourne and has an under storey of  hazel, with rich ground flora, bird and insect communities. 
• Small woodland remnants and ancient trees still grow in the estates of Castlewellan, Mourne Park, Newcastle and Tollymore. Silver washed fritillary butterflies are common on the woodland edges in Newcastle.
• Holly, rowan and birch grow on higher ground and holly blue butterflies may be abundant. 
• Willow scrub grows along many river valleys and around lowland lake margins. 
• Densely canopied beech and sycamore plantations in larger estates predominantly display carpets of spring bluebells. 
• Extensive plantations of conifers from the 1950s are now important refuges for red squirrel and pine marten.  
• Great spotted woodpeckers have recently colonised several woods in Mourne.

Red squirrel
Distinguished by its prominent ear tufts and red colour, red squirrels were once common in all types of woodland but survive the competition from the grey squirrel better in large areas of coniferous plantation. A Red Squirrel Project has been established by volunteers in Tollymore Forest Park to control the greys and provide supplementary food for the reds. This has been highly successful in conserving the red squirrel population. 

Oaks dominated Irish woodlands 5000 years ago. On Mourne’s acidic soils sessile oaks would have grown over an understorey of hazel, with a spring carpet of wood anemones, bluebells, and wild garlic. Such ancient woods are now rare and at Mourne Heritage Trust’s tree nursery, Rostrevor acorns are being grown for planting in Mourne’s countryside with the help of volunteers including farmers.

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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