Lough Neagh sits in the center of Northern Ireland with many small communities nestled around its shorelines. It has inspired poetry, supports local and international wildlife, provides a large water catchment area that helps supply drinking water for people across Northern Ireland, and is home to the largest commercial eel industry in Europe. The Lough has many faces – from wild and windswept to calmly serene – each as quietly beautiful as the other.
Visitors and locals come to the lough shore from across the province. For many it is an opportunity to be close to nature and there is no doubt that the Lough holds a special place in the hearts of many.
Lough Neagh Partnership (LNP) are working with local landowners, farmers, industry, and communities through its landscape partnership scheme (funded by heritage lottery fund) to deliver a number of important cultural, built and natural heritage projects around the lough.
One of the main Natural Heritage projects is “Saving Nature” where LNP are working alongside partners RSPB NI, Local Landowners, Farmers, NIEA etc. to look at the key habitats around the Lough and the important wildlife species they support. Through a system of monitoring, research, engagement and practical restoration we hope to help improve the biodiversity at key sites and locations around the Lough. Through this research we can improve our understanding of the impact we as people are having on the Lough, and gain knowledge which will allow us to continue to interact with this landscape in a sustainable and well informed manner.
Lough Neagh Partnership (LNP) have been working with local landowners and the wider community looking at the potential impact of pressures such as climate change, over and under grazing, scrub control, etc. on the ecologically sensitive habitats and biodiversity found within and around the Lough Neagh & Lough Beg Special Protected Area. Work is currently being carried out at Brookend Nature Reserve, where vegetation surveys are being carried out assessing the change in habitats and any changes in biodiversity. Surveys are also been undertaken to look at the invertebrate population found on the site and how this has altered with changing management on the site. Once the surveys have been carried out LNP will aim to work alongside Northern Ireland Environment Agency and other local landowners within the area to help improve the biodiversity value of the lands and offer support to the local communities and peoples who are looking after this valuable wildlife resource. It is also hoped that with correct management breeding waders such as curlew, redshank, and lapwing will start to use the lands again.
There are many pressures both man made and environmental that are acting on these special habitats, and whilst funding has been secured for the immediate future as an organisation we are constantly seeking ways to draw in more to continue this important work. Working alongside local communities and farmers is a vitally important part of our work, and educating recreational users and others on the potential impacts of their use and how they can help us to look after the Lough and its surrounding landscape is for us a big part of what we do. We are not alone in our love for this landscape and we would ask people to engage with us and help manage this landscape.
For further information and details of volunteering opportunities within Natural heritage projects, please contact either the Natural Heritage officer Siobhan Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or Chris McCarney the Volunteer officer at email@example.com