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Special Areas of Conservation

Eastern Mournes

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country Northern Ireland
Unitary Authority Northern Ireland
Centroid* J328270
Latitude 54.17472222
Longitude -5.965555556
SAC EU Code UK0016615
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 7509.59
* This is the approximate central point of the SAC. In the case of large, linear or composite sites, this may not represent the location where a feature occurs within the SAC.
Location of Eastern Mournes SAC

General site character

  • Inland water bodies (Standing water, Running water) (10%)
  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (10%)
  • Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (74%)
  • Humid grassland, Mesophile grassland (4.6%)
  • Alpine and sub-Alpine grassland (0.4%)
  • Inland rocks, Screes, Sands, Permanent Snow and ice (1%)

Download the Natura 2000 standard data form for this site as submitted to Europe (PDF <100kb)

Note When undertaking an appropriate assessment of impacts at a site, all features of European importance (both primary and non-primary) need to be considered.

Annex I habitats that are a primary reason for selection of this site

  • The Eastern Mournes is one of the largest and most natural areas of heathland in Northern Ireland. Although much of the vegetation consists of 4030 European dry heaths, the site also represents one of the largest areas of Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix in Northern Ireland. M15 Scirpus cespitosusErica tetralix wet heath predominates, and this community, together with the dry heaths and other mire communities, forms part of a well-defined altitudinal sequence between 70 m and 800 m. Transitions between the wet and dry heaths occur as a consequence of altitude, aspect and slope, with the wet heaths tending to be best developed on lower north-facing slopes. The community is characterised by cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix, purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea, deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum, carnation sedge Carex panicea and Sphagnum bog-mosses. Unusual elements in the flora include a high proportion of bell heather Erica cinerea, which is generally associated with more freely-draining soils, and black bog-rush Schoenus nigricans, which is locally frequent in areas of more pronounced water-movement. The wet heaths are also notable for the abundance of the rare northern Atlantic moss Campylopus setifolius.

  • The Mourne Mountains contain by far the largest area of European dry heaths in Northern Ireland. This is mostly of the CallunaErica cinerea type (equivalent to H10 Calluna vulgarisErica cinerea heath). The dominance of bell heather Erica cinerea is a notable feature of the area and is characteristic of dry heath in the hyper-oceanic western part of the UK. The site also contains a range of other heath types, including forms with affinities to H12 Calluna vulgarisVaccinium myrtillus heath on the summits and well-developed H8 Calluna vulgarisUlex gallii heath on the lower slopes.

Annex II species that are a primary reason for selection of this site

  • Not Applicable

Annex II species present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection

  • Not Applicable

Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.