Eastern Mournes

Site details

UK map showing location of Eastern Mournes Special Area of Conservation/Site of Community Importance.
Location of Eastern Mournes SAC/SCI/cSAC


When undertaking an appropriate assessment of impacts at a site, all features of European importance (both primary and non-primary) need to be considered.

Annex I habitats that are a primary reason for selection of this site

4010 Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix
The Eastern Mournes is one of the largest and most natural areas of heathland in Northern Ireland. Although much of the vegetation consists of 4030 European dry heaths, the site also represents one of the largest areas of Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix in Northern Ireland. M15Scirpus cespitosus Erica tetralix wet heath predominates, and this community, together with the dry heaths and other mire communities, forms part of a well-defined altitudinal sequence between 70m and 800m. Transitions between the wet and dry heaths occur as a consequence of altitude, aspect and slope, with the wet heaths tending to be best developed on lower north-facing slopes. The community is characterised by cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix, purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea, deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum, carnation sedge Carex panicea and Sphagnum bog-mosses. Unusual elements in the flora include a high proportion of bell heather Erica cinerea, which is generally associated with more freely-draining soils, and black bog-rush Schoenus nigricans, which is locally frequent in areas of more pronounced water-movement. The wet heaths are also notable for the abundance of the rare northern Atlantic moss Campylopus setifolius.
4030 European dry heaths
The Mourne Mountains contain by far the largest area of European dry heaths in Northern Ireland. This is mostly of the Calluna Erica cinerea type (equivalent to H10Calluna vulgaris Erica cinerea heath). The dominance of bell heather Erica cinerea is a notable feature of the area and is characteristic of dry heath in the hyper-oceanic western part of the UK. The site also contains a range of other heath types, including forms with affinities to H12Calluna vulgaris Vaccinium myrtillus heath on the summits and well-developed H8Calluna vulgaris Ulex gallii heath on the lower slopes.

Annex I habitats present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for selection of this site

4060 Alpine and Boreal heaths
6150 Siliceous alpine and boreal grasslands
7130 Blanket bogs (* if active bog)  * Priority feature
8110 Siliceous scree of the montane to snow levels (Androsacetalia alpinae and Galeopsietalia ladani)
8220 Siliceous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation

Annex II species that are a primary reason for selection of this site

Not applicable.

Annex II species present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection

Not applicable.

Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.