The Ring of Gullion 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 (Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (Northern Ireland) Order 1985), it was designated in 1991 as the Ring of Gullion AONB, one of nine AONBs in Northern Ireland.
Covering an area of 15,353ha, it includes almost the whole of the Ring of Gullion landscape character area and borders with Carlingofrd Lough, the Cooleys and Mourne AONB.
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. The purpose of designation is to protect and enhance the environmental qualities of the area, both for the benefit of those people living in the area and for visitors who come to see and enjoy its natural beauty.
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.
You can find more information on the Ring of Gullion’s protected areas, why they are protected, maps and views of management on the NIEA site here.
Management of the AONB
Newry Mourne and Down District Council and NIEA have jointly funded an AONB Officer to oversee the management of the area in line with the management strategy. The Office’s work is aimed at enhancing the rich built, cultural and natural heritage in the area as well as increasing opportunities for public enjoyment of the special qualities of the AONB.
The AONB also has a Steering Group comprising representatives of statutory, community, recreation and environment sectoral interests in order to raise awareness of the need for management of the area and to facilitate inter-agency co-operation.
You can view the Ring of Gullion Area Outstanding Natural Beauty Boundary by clicking here for the NIEA Designated Areas map viewer. You can view townland and parish boundaries by clicking here for the Northern Ireland Placenames project map.
A Management Strategy
A strategy was developed to manage the area from 2011 – 2016 which set out clear objectives for the conservation and enhancement of the rich built, cultural and natural heritage of the AONB area and allowed the area to begin to move into line with other AONBS in the province in terms of management. A copy of the Management Plan is available to download from our publications section by clicking here.
The new action plan can be found in the publications section by clicking here.