Earth Science Conservation Review database

The website and associated database provides information on the most important geological sites in Northern Ireland


The Earth Science Conservation Review collated a vast range of data on these sites through reports produced by the specialists listed in the Contacts and Acknowledgements section.

Maintaining information in this format (as opposed to opting for publication) allows for ease of updating and enhancing.

The site related information can be searched by using keywords/themes e.g. by county, geological period or rock type amongst many options.

There is a hierarchy of site importance (from a geoconservation perspective).

The actual project known as the Earth Science Conservation Review had the primary objective of identifying and documenting sites that were at least of ‘national significance’ (see Introduction for more detail). The criteria of ‘national significance’ has been taken to confirm ‘special significance’, a term which has a particular statutory meaning under The Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002 (Part IV). Such a status allows the Department to consider designating such a site as an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) under the above legislation.

The Earth Science Conservation Review provides the necessary site evaluation and information to allow The Department to fulfil its statutory responsibility. The Department now refers to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

As detailed in the Introduction, sites were identified and assessed by geological themes referred to as Subject Blocks in the database. The ‘Selected ECSR Site’ heading has an entry of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ against each site. Sites that meet the criteria threshold of ‘national significance’ are listed as ‘yes’ and other sites that were reported on but identified as of local significance only, will have ‘no (local)’ entered under this heading. Sites already designated as ASSI’s (in whole or in part) have details of that designation included under ‘Site Status’.

(Assumes SLNCI’s are merged with other local sites so not referred to)

Finally, for some subject blocks, the task of assessing the importance of the sites is still ongoing. In such cases the ‘Selected ESCR site?’ entry will be tbc.

Note that a number of sites may host a variety of rock ages (Periods) not all of which are reflected under Subject Block. In such cases a range of rocks with diverse ages are present but not all are of sufficient importance to be selected as formal ESCR sites.

Further, some sites may be listed under a number of Subject Blocks each of sufficient importance to be reported on against each theme. A site say with an important series of sedimentary rocks may also have important fossils present with perhaps another notable occurrence of a different rock type of a different age – in this case the site could appear against 3 different subject blocks.

Where sites have been designated as ASSIs, this is shown under the ‘Site Status’ heading together with the name of the ASSI. For various reasons, the site name may not be the same name used for ESCR reporting purposes e.g. the geological locations may fall within a larger area of biological interest, the ASSI name reflecting this larger area. Further information on the ASSIs can be found by searching the DAERA website (see section on Additional NIEA Earth science sources).

© National Museums Northern Ireland 2003-19

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