Northern Ireland's Priority Species


In Northern Ireland there are a number of plants and animals that are under threat and require conservation action. These species have been identified as Priority Species and the list stands at 481. Criteria have been developed to ensure that Priority Species have been chosen using a scientific basis.

The availability of a list of named species assists those involved in the conservation of biodiversity to concentrate efforts, by guiding decisions on where to target action and invest resources.

The following web pages provide an introduction to some of the Priority Species in Northern Ireland. In the future pages will be added to include the majority of Priority Species.

To download the full Northern Ireland Priority Species list as a PDF (168KB) please click here.


A review of the UK priority species was undertaken in 2005. This was a thorough and inclusive process which involved a large number of people and organisations and led to a large increase in Priority Species, from 557 to 1150 species. These proposals were agreed by Governments of all four UK administrations in August 2007.

As a direct follow-on to this UK review, a review of Northern Ireland Priority Species has recently been completed by the Northern Ireland Species Delivery Group. Although some of the species groups have yet to be fully reviewed, the new Northern Ireland priority species list currently stands at 484 species, an increase from 271 on the ‘old’ list. The new list of Northern Ireland Priority Species can be viewed by clicking "Species List".

Responsibility for action

As part of the UK priority species review it was recognised that it would not be sensible to publish species action plans for all species on the considerably expanded list. Consequently, as part of the UK review, signposted actions have been identified for each species. These indicate those species whose conservation needs may be addressed by a limited range of actions relating to habitat action plans, designated site management, research and survey or other cross-cutting action such as pollution control. These species would generally not need dedicated species action plans. This signposting exercise has recently been completed at a UK level and will be presented to each country for comment in the near future.

It is proposed that a similar signposting exercise will be undertaken by the Northern Ireland Species Biodiversity Delivery Group for the new Northern Ireland priority species list. This will build on the UK signposting exercise and identify how action for individual species will be undertaken. It is envisaged that action in Northern Ireland for many species can primarily be delivered through habitat delivery groups, designated site management or undertaking research and survey.

Getting involved

There is a role for individuals, community groups, landowners and companies within the conservation of Priority Species through for example, practical conservation work or species recording. The individual species pages suggest ways to get involved and organisations to contact.

In some areas of Northern Ireland there are Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) Officers who co-ordinate biodiversity conservation action. To contact these officers to discuss opportunities to get involved in your local area see the link below:

Biodiversity NI

Text written by Biodiversity Unit, Northern Ireland Environment Agency.