There are many nationwide as well as Northern Irish initiatives to protect plant and animal biodiversity.
Regions, species and specific factors are protected depending on how endangered they are, their role in the environment, and whether they are of special scientific interest.
As such, Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) are regions that represent the best of wildlife, and hold great value as natural communities. The Environment Order in Northern Ireland empowers anyone who obtains approval from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, and gives 24-hour notice to a landowner, to enter their land and inspect it in order to determine whether it qualifies as an ASSI.
Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) refers to geographical sites (as well as species) that are most in need of conservation, and it is a European-wide initiative. The UK has more than 600 SACs, with over 50 in Northern Ireland.
In order to help implement biodiversity-supporting measures, Biodiversity Action Plans have been devised. These are unique for each district council area.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland started an agri-environment scheme to offer farmers the opportunity to voluntarily optimise their land to support biodiversity. The scheme covers three objectives, for which separate applications can be made. One of them focuses on the development of a specific site to maximise the habitat and species for biodiversity; another focuses on impacts felt further afield from the main site; while the third scheme option focuses on joint efforts by…