The Ring of Gullion – A Special Place
The Ring of Gullion is a unique geological landform, unparalleled elsewhere in the Britain or Ireland. The ring of low, rugged hills forms a ‘rampart’ around the heather-clad Slieve Gullion mountain. Rich semi-wild habitats of heath, bog and woodland contrast with the neatly patterned fields and ladder farms. Slieve Gullion’s mysterious reputation arises from its associations with legends and the wider area’s rich archaeological heritage. The area sits to the north of the Northern Ireland border with the Republic of Ireland and it shares many landscape characteristics with the adjacent area of County Louth.
The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Designation
Part of South Armagh was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) as long ago as 1966. Following a redrafting of the legislation, it was designated in 1991 as the Ring of Gullion AONB. Covering an area of 15,353ha, it includes almost the whole of the Ring of Gullion landscape character area . The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), part of the Department of the Environment, is responsible for the designation of AONBs and it facilitates their management. In practice, many public bodies, conservation organisations, communities and landowners work together to protect and provide for the enjoyment of the landscape of AONBs. AONB management plans provide an agreed framework for all stakeholders to work to. The goal of having a management plan for each AONB in Northern Ireland is a stated objective of NIEA’s policy ‘Protected Landscapes – Shared Horizons’ . Objectives of AONB management plans include retaining the landscape character and the natural built and cultural heritage of the area.
The Scope of the Management Plan
This management plan outlines an agreed set of objectives and actions for the period 2011-2016 for the Ring of Gullion AONB. The action programme identifies what needs to be done and provides details of when it will be done and who will take responsibility for leading the action. In Northern Ireland, the legislation does not provide statutory status for management plans for AONBs. Instead they are implemented through voluntary agreement.
Who is the Management Plan for?
This management plan is for the benefit of the Ring of Gullion AONB. Its success relies on all of those who live, work, plan for, develop and manage the area taking its special character into account when making decisions that will affect its future.
This map shows the extent of the boundary of the Ring of Gullion AONB – click to enlarge.