Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB):

An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is exactly what it says it is: a precious landscape with a distinctive character and natural beauty so outstanding that it is in the nation’s interest to safeguard it. There are three AONB’s within the Causeway Coast and Glens and part of another:

  1. Antrim Coast & Glens.
  2. Causeway Coast
  3. Binevenagh

Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI):

These are areas, which have been identified as of high scientific interest “by reason of their flora, fauna, geological, physiographical or other features”. They are designated by NIEA under the Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. Most ASSI’s occur on private land and are subject to management agreements between NIEA and the landowners. There are currently 88 ASSI’s in the Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust area.

Biodiversity (or biological diversity):

Simply stated, biodiversity or biological diversity is the ‘variation of life forms’, incorporating all species of plants & animals from those that are widespread to those on the brink of extinction. So far, 1.75 million species have been identified but estimates range from 3 to 100 million. The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity formally defines biodiversity as:

“The variability among living organisms from all sources including inter alia, terrestrial, marine & other aquatic ecosystems & the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species & of ecosystems”


The Environmentally Sensitive Area Scheme encourages landowners and farmers through area based payments to manage their land in an environmentally friendly way. The Scheme takes place in areas designated as “environmentally sensitive”.

In total there are five areas within Northern Ireland designated as Environmentally Sensitive, one of which is the “Antrim Coast, Glens and Rathlin Island” area.

Local Nature Reserves (LNR):

These are designated by local authorities under ‘The Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (NI) Order 1985’. The sites are designated in conjunction with NIEA and the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside (CNCC). There are 3 LNRs in the Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust.

National Nature Reserves (NNR):

Nature Reserves are designated in areas where there are nationally important populations of plants, animals, birds or where the area is of outstanding geological interest. NIEA is responsible for declaring nature reserves under the Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. There are currently 49 NNR’s in Northern Ireland, 15 of which are in the Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust.

Natura 2000:

The European network of designated SPA’s and candidate SAC’s.

Ramsar Sites:

These are globally recognised wetland sites of international importance. RAMSAR sites are found throughout the world and are named after Ramsar in Iran where an International Convention on Wetlands of International Importance was held in 1971. The UK government signed the Convention in 1973 and ratified it in 1976. There are 6 Ramsar sites within the Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust area.

Special Protection Areas (SPA):

These are sites designated under the European Commission Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds. They are sites identified by the UK government as being of international importance for breeding, over-wintering and migrating birds. The Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust area has 8 SPA’s.

Special Areas of Conservation (SAC):

These are sites designated under the European Commission Habitats Directive. Candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSAC’s) are chosen by the UK government and submitted to Europe as representative of the most seriously threatened habitats and species across Europe. There are 12 candidate cSAC’s within the Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust area.

Sustainable Development:

Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (Bruntland Report, World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987).

World Heritage Sites (WHS):

‘places or buildings of outstanding universal value recognised as constituting a world heritage “for whose protection it is the duty of the international community as a whole to co-operate”. The Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast is a World Heritage site.

Conservation Area:

See NIEA definition + 11in CCGHT area

State Care monuments:

See NIEA definition + 34 in CCGHT area