Futurescapes (Northern Ireland)

  • Ballyronan Harbour, Lough Neagh (credit Henry Clark, Creative Commons licence)
    Ballyronan Harbour, Lough Neagh (credit Henry Clark, Creative Commons licence)
Case Study Information
The Futurescapes programme in Northern Ireland, led by RSPB, applied a range of best practice approaches and innovative solutions to make habitats bigger, better and more connected across the Lough Neagh and Erne Basins.
Lough Neagh and Lough Erne, Northern Ireland
Landscape context: 

The Northern Ireland Futurescapes Programme covers the Lough Neagh and Lough Erne Basins. These basins were chosen as targets for landscape-scale conservation in Northern Ireland because both contain a high proportion of designated sites, publicly-owned land and priority habitats which support priority species.

Partners, organisations and stakeholders involved: 

A range of public and private landowners work in partnership to aid in the delivery of Futurescapes in Northern Ireland. Some partners and stakeholders include:
• Northern Ireland Water
• Lough Neagh Partnership
• Northern Ireland Environment Agency
• Local councils
• Waterways Ireland

Aims of the project/initiative: 
  • Demonstrate habitat management and restoration techniques
  • Promote the value of nature conservation  and the ecosystem services it provides
  • Advocate land-use policy change
  • Secure support for delivery of projects elsewhere within the Lough Neagh and Erne Basins
Progress so far: 

In 2013 the RSPB, in partnership with Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and Northern Ireland Water, blocked 72 hectares of degraded peatland in a sustainable catchment area management planning project. In addition to this, grazing density was reduced. This occurred on Garron Plateau ASSI/SAC and was a catchment area for Dungonnell Reservoir. This has led to the improving water quality and species diversity on the site and it is anticipated that the site's condition assessment will have improved when published in 2016. We are currently developing ways to build upon this and implement this approach across others parts of Northern Ireland.

Currently within the South Lough Neagh area, we are developing a nature and well-being project which will see 8-10 participants suffering from mild mental health issues come to our Portmore Lough Reserve to carry out nature-related activities and potentially improve mental health. We would like to take this pilot forward and encourage GPs and other health professionals in the future to recognise the importance nature has to play in well being.

Challenges and lessons learned: 

When tendering for the restoration work it became clear that many contractors lacked experience in blocking drains with peat and plastic sheet piling. We managed to overcome this by hiring Moors for the Future to visit Garron Plateau and help oversee restoration works at the beginning to help ensure machinery operators were damming in the correct way.


Further information
Contact name 

Sean Woods

Role in project: 
Futurescapes Project Officer
Location map: