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”
Biodiversity is a reliable measure of the health of biological systems. The increasing rate of loss of biodiversity, due to human activity (e.g. habitat loss, invasive species, climate change, resource overexploitation), has been well documented. The United Kingdom has lost over 100 species during the last century with many more under threat of extinction, especially at a local level. Loss of biodiversity reduces ecosystem productivity, goods & services that underpin sustainable development.
The next sections will focus on the biodiversity of importance to the Causeway Coast and Glens and especially the three AONBs (Antrim Coast & Glens, Causeway Coast and Binevenagh). Important biodiversity in Northern Ireland is expressed through Priority Habitats, Priority Species and Species of Conservation Concern and a series of site designations.
The Priority Habitats section will detail the main habitat features, the current status of the habitat in the UK and Northern Ireland and link them to designated sites and associated Priority Species in the Causeway Coast and Glens area. This will reveal the diversity of habitat types in the Causeway Coast and Glens and highlight their conservation value.
The Priority Species & Species of Conservation Concern (SoCC) section will describe the species conservation value, current status, threats/reasons for decline and Priority habitats and designated sites where they have been recorded in the Causeway Coast and Glens area.
The Designated Sites section will describe the main Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI), Ramsar sites, National Nature Reserves (NNRs), World Heritage Site (WHS) & other designated sites within the three Causeway Coast and Glens area.